NPTC edge out Gower College Swansea in the second week of the WRU Wednesday Under 18’s League.
Llandarcy was the stage for a real game of two halves yesterday in the derby clash between Neath Port Talbot College and Gower College Swansea. Neath Port Talbot were dominant in the first half, with Gower College struggling especially in the line out and only being kept in the game by the boot of Matthew Aubery. The second half saw a much stronger performance from the visitors with just good defending by NPTC and a last ditch penalty keeping them from stealing the win.
Gower College started with determination after picking up on a Neath Port Talbot missed pass and trying to make their way to the line. There was plenty of enthusiasm from the visitors but NPTC’s defence started as it meant to go on and held them off. However after just 3 minutes played, Gower College were rewarded for their efforts after NPTC were penalised. Matthew Aubery, also starting as he meant to go on, slotted it between the posts to put Gower College ahead by 3 points.
The restart saw NPTC go on an attack that didn’t really stop for the rest of the first half. Within minutes they were given a chance to equalise after Gower College were penalised for failing to stay on their feet. However Joe Thomas, kicking from the half way line and hindered by the wind, sent it to the left of the posts leaving the score at 0 – 3.
A poor restart kick from Gower College along the grass and a penalisation for not rolling away gave Neath Port Talbot another chance to get on the offensive. Several powerful drives came from NPTC as they tried to cross over for a try but were consistently held out by the Gower College line. Two poor line outs from Gower College however kept returning the ball to NPTC hands and allowing them to attack. A further period of recycling the ball and putting pressure on the visitors was eventually rewarded when Jack Perkins crossed the line for Neath Port Talbot. Dylan Francis quickly converted putting the home side ahead 7 – 3 at the end of the first quarter.
Gower College had to go straight back on the defensive from the kick off and did well to keep the home side out despite further pressure from the strong NPTC attack. More line out errors from the visitors kept them on the back foot for the majority of the remaining first half and a handling error spoilt their only real chance to test the Neath defence. Matthew Aubrey’s boot kept them in the game with a brilliant penalty kick from the half way line and left them trailing by just 1 point after 30 minutes played.
Neath Port Talbot College quickly showed them who were the dominant team though as Jack Anderson, fed by a lovely pass from Luke Davies crossed the line easily to score the home sides second of the game. Dylan Francis again converted successfully taking them into half time leading 14 – 6.
Gower College started the second half knowing they needed to work hard and got off to a great start. Pressure from the visitors meant Neath Port Talbot kicked straight out after the restart and Gower College seemed to have finally mastered their own line out, allowing them to go on the offensive straight away. After just 2 minutes played NPTC were penalised for coming in from the side and another successful Matthew Aubrey kick saw the visitors trailing by just 5 points.
The rest of the 3rd quarter saw both sides have chances to test the others line with good runs by Lloyd Pritchard for NPTC and Max Easey and Jon Fox for Gower College. Strong defence and handling errors by both sides stopped anyone adding to the score line though. The only opportunity for that coming from another penalty kick for Gower Colleges Matthew Aubrey after NPTC’s Joe Gage was found offside. However the ball hit the posts and bounced back into play leaving the score 14 – 9 to NPTC.
Gower College continued their stronger second half with more attacking play while NPTC continued to defend with some crunching tackles. Breaks by Matthew Dodd and Jon Fox saw the visitors looking particularly dangerous but Neath Port Talbot made try saving tackles to keep themselves in the lead.
With 7 minutes left to play NPTC were penalised and Aubrey took the chance to make a fantastic kick to touch, giving Gower College a line out just feet from the try line. A good throw saw the ball go to Max Easey who pushed for the line. Jon Fox, supported by Kurt Westron, received the ball from Easey and powered his way across the Neath line to score Gower’s only try of the game. A hard kick for left footer Aubrey followed but he successfully converted putting Gower College back in front 16 points to 14.
With just minutes remaining both teams kept up the momentum as they looked for the win. Gower College looking the stronger side to start with especially with another Max Easey break for the line however NPTC were not keen to give up the win. A Gower College knock on, caused by a huge NPTC tackle put the home side back on the front foot. They passed the ball down the line really testing the Gower College defence. Eventually it broke down and with seconds left on the clock NPTC were rewarded with a penalty. Dylan Francis put it neatly between the posts and the final whistle blew with Neath Port Talbot winning 16 – 14.
Max Howells, Neath Port Talbot Coach on the win:
“There was a lot riding this game and pressure before it started due to a lot of the boys knowing each other already and playing alongside each other under the Ospreys umbrella”.
“It was a game of two halves. We were dominant in the first and they dominated the possession and territory in the second but we came out in the last minute and that was enough to get us the win”.
Dan Cluroe, Head Coach of Gower College commented on his side’s loss:
“We made too many errors and gifted them 14 points and you can’t give anyone that many points and expect to win. The second half was much better for us but we had left ourselves with too much to do. I’m very disappointed to have lost with the last kick of the game but this league is always very tight and that’s the way it is”
“We have some lessons to be learnt from this game, especially with the line out and we will be working on that particularly in training this week”.
Elsewhere, Bridgend the 3rd Ospreylian college in the league, managed a second win in a row beating Pembroke College 33 - 0.