Backs Coach Keith Holifield must be pleased with the present form of wing/full back Leigh Bevan as he also looks after his development as the Conditioning Coach for the Young Ospreys Academy.
Last night (Wednesday 25th January) Bevan played on the wing and was in scintillating form in both attack and defence and fully deserved his brace of tries. The first was a 50 metre affair when he gathered a charge down kick by one of his fellow players; Bevan quickly saw an opportunity to speed down the wing and then chip kick the defending full back before gathering and scoring under the posts. Using the same facilities at Llandarcy as the Swansea City Academy must be rubbing off because his second try came as a result of some silky soccer dribbling skills and a dive onto the ball over the line.
Nicky Roberts standing in the more familiar role as an outside half also scored as a result of a charge down kick when he pressurised his opposite number and re-gathered to score a try that he also converted. Roberts demonstrated maturity in the way in which he mixed up his passing and kicking game at the request of head coach Garin Jenkins. Jenkins sought to outwit his Dragons counterparts by playing a high tempo, expansive game in the first half before reverting more to type through an “up the jumper” and kick to the corners approach that has brought a good deal of success over the last couple of seasons. In order to control a game in this fashion Roberts needed a platform up front and forwards coach Jeff Pick ensured that his players were motivated and organised to provide.
The first ten minutes of the game was dominated by the defences with neither side capable of breaking through to score. During this period any Young Osprey supporter who witnessed the tackle of back row forward Luke Jones on Dragons outside half Ashley Smith would have agreed that it was worth the entrance fee alone; Smith showed great character to dust himself down after such a “big hit” and continue playing. Jones had gone in to the game with sore ribs and at half time coach Jenkins decided that he had put his body on the line enough and substituted him.
After the initial ten minutes it was the Dragons who opened the scoring when wing Marcus Johnstone finally found a hole in the defensive line and passed to supporting full back Daniel Fox, who scored a try which Smith converted. It was essential for the Young Ospreys to hit back quickly and they did this through prop Roy Jones. Jones took a quick penalty kick and ran at the defence knowing full well that they were not back the required ten metres and therefore had to get out of his way, he dived in at the feet of a number of defenders for a confidence boosting try to the for the team. Roberts kicked a penalty but it was the Dragons who went in leading at half time courtesy of a try by prop Richard Cornock and conversion by Smith. However, twenty one unanswered points (3 tries all converted by Roberts) ensured both a winning performance by 29 points to 14 and that the Young Ospreys become the first side to qualify for the Reebok Final in April with still a fixture to play.
Next up for the group will be an under 19 match with the Army at Pencoed RFC on Saturday 11th February, 2.30 kick off. For this fixture Head Coach Garin Jenkins will have the opportunity to reward the players who have not started a game yet and introduce some of the more mature under 18’s with an eye on next season. Those of you who have not seen a Regional game at the younger level would certainly find it a worthwhile and entertaining experience, so come along.