Tom Cole, Player Development Officer for the Bridgend District, updates on the progress of the Bridgend District U16 programme.
The programme was based at Porthcawl RFC and has seen more than 50 players from across the District attend conditioning and skills sessions. The coaching group headed up by Richard Smart receiving assistance from Andrew Richards with the forward and Ben Parker with the backs as well as the introduction of Marius Walters as a conditioning coach has seen the players grow from strength to strength week by week. The value of these volunteers is incredible and we can not thank them enough for the time and effort they give to the players.
All of the hard work that had been done was easily seen in the narrow defeat to a well drilled Dragons Development with the skills and fitness levels extremely high a good start in the opening quarter saw the Bridgend boys take a 6-0 lead and pressure on the Dragons line was defended well just before the end of the quarter.
A mistake from the kick off to the second quarter saw Bridgend under a lot of pressure very early on and some good build up play from the Dragons saw them eventually break the Bridgend line. The rest of the second quarter saw Bridgend pile on the pressure but failing to convert the pressure into points once held up over the line and one attempt to squeeze into the corner saw some great scrambling defence by the Dragons deny Bridgend.
The 3rd quarter was a complete re-enactment of the 2nd with the final quarter providing a very hard fought battle with both teams playing some very expansive and exciting rugby however neither team could cross the whitewash.
The squad was then given a well deserved week off with the final game of the trial period being played at Llandarcy against Afan Nedd. Both teams had something to prove with regional coaches watching the action as well as competing for a place in the district set up. The first third was an exciting affair with the a number of turnovers from good counter rucking by both teams, Bridgend taking a 7-5 lead with some strong counter attacking play.
The second third started well for Bridgend securing the ball from the kick off with quick ruck ball allowing some attacking play down the blindside with some slick handling and good pace shown to take the score out to 14-5 however all of the good work was undone when the restart was lost and Afan Nedd took advantage out wide to squeeze in over in the corner leaving the score 14-10.
It stayed this way for the rest of the second third - however there was a long stoppage in play as an Afan Nedd player was taken from the field in an ambulance in what appeared to be a serious injury and we wish him all the best and a speedy recovery.
The final third saw the teams exchange scores again with the final tally 21-17 to Bridgend. The play over the two games has given the coaches plenty to think about with selection. I would like to thank all of the boys for their effort over the past couple of weeks and although there will be disappointment for some the door will always be open if they continue to improve they way they have over the summer period.
Tom Cole, Bridgend District Player Development Officer