The 2013/14 season kicked off yesterday for Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Gower Colleges in the WRU Wednesday Under 18 League.
Bridgend College started with a home game against Newport High School. Seven of our very own Eyasses featured in the starting 15 and after a successful preseason confidence was high going into the game.
It was league newcomers Newport High School who got off to the strongest start though. They went on the offensive straight away with three very good attempts at tries within the first few minutes. However strong defensive tackles from the Bridgend side saw them unable to get over the line. The home side also had a few chances to attack in the first quarter but handling errors cost them and they too were unable to make it count.
Newport High School were the first to get a chance to put points on the board after a Bridgend knock on. Newport’s Josh Malson slotted in between the posts and after 14 minutes played the score was 3-0 to Newport.
They added to their total just a few minutes later when a clever steal from the visitors and a dummy run from 13, Barney Nightingale, saw him slot through a gap in the Bridgend defence to score the first try of the game. The conversion was missed by Malson but the visitors went into the 20th minute eight points ahead.
Bridgend and Young Osprey player Aaron Grabham stopped another Newport attack by bundling their player into touch. The resulting line out gave Bridgend a chance to charge towards the line. Eyasses Jakob Williams and Lewis Kirby carried the ball up field before Reuben Tooze crossed the line. Rhodri Davies then converted leaving the home side just a point behind the visitors.
Successful penalty attempts for both sides in the next few minutes left the score Bridgend College 10 – 11 Newport High School as they entered the last 5 minutes of the first half.
A Newport knock on in the last passage of play gave Bridgend a chance to put in at the scrum. A nice chip and chase by James Needs saw Bridgend advance and after some clever passes and good handling, despite strong Newport defence, Edd Howley managed to get over the line to score. Davies’ conversion attempt went to the right of the posts but at half time the home side were in front for the first time, 15 – 11.
The second half saw plenty of kicking up and downfield with neither side making touch that often. Bridgend started the second half much stronger than they had the first and almost went over to score with a chip to behind the try line however the backs were unable to reach the ball in time to ground it. A chance to put Bridgend further ahead with a penalty for Newport not rolling away was missed 5 minutes into the second half.
More kicking ensued in the third quarter and both teams had chances to score. Bridgend made a lovely run, sending the ball down the line but just as they started to look dangerous the long pass went beyond James Needs reach and into touch. Newport’s effort saw them collect the ball and run almost the length of the pitch through a number of Bridgend missed tackles before the home side’s defence kicked in just shy of the line and stopped them crossing to score.
Still on the offensive Newport then spent several minutes sending the ball up and down the line trying to find a way to penetrate the Bridgend defence. After Bridgend were penalised for offside the attack started again but they were unable to find a gap in the Bridgend wall.
Handling errors marred the next two bids from Bridgend to score tries but they were rewarded with a penalty after a foul by Newport in the line out. This time Rhodri Davies slotted it between the posts putting Bridgend 18 – 11 ahead.
The final 10 minutes saw both teams making handling errors just as they started to pick up steam. The only other score coming from a penalty kick by Bridgend’s Davies after another Newport foul. The final score being Bridgend 21 – 11 Newport.
Bridgend College Head Coach Gareth Nicholas said of the game:
“It was a close game but it’s great and very important for us to have had a good start to the season. We have things to work on before we take on Pembroke next week but it’s nice to have got the win and have things to look at rather than lose and have to do it”.
Bridgend and Eyases player Owen Watkin added:
“We are delighted to have got the win, the boys dug deep and I think they played great. It was nice to have proven everyone wrong and made such a great start to the season”.
In the other games Gower College Swansea faced Cymoedd away at Taffs Well RFC. The side was dominated by Eyasses, with 12 of the starting 15 being Young Ospreys. Their opposition side, also featured numerous regional age grade players from the Blues Academy. The home side, renowned for being one of the best in the country, were extremely dominant and the final score was Coleg Cymoedd 64 – 3 Gower College Swansea.
Head Coach Dan Cluroe remarked:
“We were well beaten but hopefully the boys can learn valuable lessons from this experience and move on. We are very much looking forward to our derby game next week against Neath”.
It was a more successful day for Neath Port Talbot College who hosted Brynteg Comprehensive School at home. A third of the starting 15 were Eyasses and they helped their team to a 52 – 0 victory over the school from Bridgend.
The visitors had no answer to the dominance of the N.P.T back line especially in the first half where Neath Port Talbot waltzed over the line for 4 tries with no real threat of being stopped. Brynteg were more involved in the second half where they caused problems for the home side especially in the line out. However they couldn’t stop several more players crossing the line while being unable to make it there themselves.