Drama and 'drop-goal' - Welsh sport headlines in 2014: Part Two

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Wales Sport
Geraint Thomas
Geraint Thomas won a gold medal at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics

BBC Wales Sport looks back at 2014's most memorable moments. In Part One, we recapped rhythmic gymnastics and swimming glory in Glasgow, as well as sackings and hirings in Welsh football.

Today, a reminder of more dramatic achievement at the Commonwealth Games and Gleneagles, as well as a cheeky drop-goal attempt from an unlikely candidate and renewed hope of Wales' national football team qualifying for a major tournament.

Cycling: Geraint leads Glasgow gold rush

Glasgow 2014: Wales' Geraint Thomas wins road race gold

Cyclist Geraint Thomas became the first Welshman to win cycling gold at the Commonwealth Games - and he did so in heart-stopping fashion.

A matter of days after claiming his highest-placed finish in the gruelling Tour de France, he won bronze in the Glasgow 2014 time trial, and was one of the favourites in the road race.

But disaster struck. Having broken away, Thomas suffered a puncture but, with the pack gaining on him, he had time to replace the wheel and cross the finish line first.

He was then made Wales flag-bearer for the closing ceremony and a wonderful year was brought to a fitting end when he was named BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year 2014.

Thomas was joined on the shortlist for that award by another three cyclists, Rachel James, Elinor Barker and Manon Carpenter, who was third behind Thomas and gymnast Frankie Jones in the vote after winning the Mountain Biking Downhill World Cup series and Mountain Bike Downhill World Championship.

Barker won team golds in the World and European Track championships before claiming a bronze and silver medal at the Commonwealth Games, while Rachel James won two gold medals at the para World Championships and then another two at the British National Track Championships as Sophie Thornhill's pilot.

Rugby: Wales' bitter row finally resolved

Wales and Ospreys flanker Dan Lydiate
Wales and Ospreys flanker Dan Lydiate followed Sam Warburton in signing a dual contract

It seemed like the dispute which would never end - the bitter feud between the Welsh Rugby Union and the four regions which had threatened the future of professional rugby in Wales.

After almost two years of intense negotiations, the row was eventually resolved when the WRU and regions signed a new £60m deal in August aimed at keeping star players in Wales.

Players such as Wales captain Sam Warburton and Dan Lydiate have since signed dual contracts which are aimed at keeping key international players in Wales.

Golf: Donaldson's Ryder Cup-clinching moment of magic

The moment Europe retained the Ryder Cup

Jamie Donaldson was playing on golf's second-tier Challenge Tour in 2007 and did not win his first European Tour title until 2012.

It is no wonder, then, that the Welshman described his Ryder Cup-winning shot as the pinnacle of a "remarkable journey".

Donaldson's superb wedge shot on the 15th clinched a 4&3 win over Keegan Bradley to give Europe the 14½ points needed to beat USA at Gleneagles.

It also prompted a distinctive celebratory salute from Donaldson who, at the age of 38, basked in the glory of a monumental career highlight to cap an excellent season.

Rugby union: Adam Jones' cheeky drop-goal

Cardiff Blues tight-head prop Adam Jones just misses with a drop-goal attempt against Munster in the Pro 12

It has been a memorable year for Adam Jones, but not for the reasons you would expect from the Wales and Lions prop.

Jones was without a club after leaving Ospreys, until he appeared unannounced in the Cardiff Blues' squad photo for the new season on 19 August.

His signing was then confirmed by the Blues, with director of rugby Mark Hammett bemused as to how a player of his stature was left in the wilderness.

And although Jones is best known for his mastery of the scrum and his long, curly hair, his most memorable moment in a Blues shirt to date was a cheeky drop-goal attempt against Munster on 1 November.

Football: Brave Wales hold Belgium

Gareth Bale (R) and his Wales team-mates thank their fans after the 0-0 draw with Belgium
Gareth Bale (R) and his Wales team-mates thank their fans after the 0-0 draw with Belgium

Welsh hopes of reaching major tournaments tend to evaporate after only a handful of qualifying matches, but there is genuine belief Chris Coleman's side could buck that trend for Euro 2016.

Wales are unbeaten in their four matches of the campaign so far, beating Andorra and Cyprus and drawing against Bosnia-Hercegovina before claiming a fine point away against Belgium on 16 November.

The goalless stalemate in Brussels was an admirable display of bravery and tactical control from Wales, as they shackled group favourites and World Cup quarter-finalists Belgium.

With an in-form Gareth Bale in their ranks, Wales are increasingly hopeful of securing a place at Euro 2016.

Rugby union: Wales slay the Springboks

Wales captain Sam Warburton celebrates their 12-6 win over South Africa
Wales captain Sam Warburton celebrates their 12-6 win over South Africa

Wales coach Warren Gatland had to field numerous questions about whether he was under pressure for this match, after defeats to Australia and New Zealand had taken his record to just one win in 27 games against the southern hemisphere's big three.

A Wales victory against South Africa, only the second in their history, provided the perfect riposte and ended the Welsh autumn on a high.

There could, and perhaps should, have been a bigger margin of victory, but Wales wasted a number of second-half opportunities.

Welsh hearts skipped a beat when the Springboks were awarded a late five-metre scrum, but Wales survived to clinch that elusive southern hemisphere scalp.

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