After the Ospreys U18s concluded block one of the Regional Age-Grade Championships last Sunday, we caught up with Head Coach, Chris Davies, to hear his thoughts…
The young side began their training at Llandarcy Academy of Sport back in early July, before kicking off the first round against the Scarlets. Chris Davies said:
“During the first block of training, we were really productive and in a much better place than we were last year. The older boys that were in the setup last year really took their experience from before into this season and really helped the younger boys out. As well as the older boys, the youngsters coming through were miles ahead of where they should be."
He added: "The players have been learning more this year. They’re adapting and making that transition from the training field onto the pitch and we can see the evidence of that during the games.”
Joining the Aberavon legend in the U18s coaching side, is current Ospreys player James Hook, Davies commented:
“With James hook involved this year, we’ve managed to get more of an experienced person as a coach. He’s been able to transition his skills onto the players and there’s no better person to learn from than Hooky. He’s a British and Irish Lion and a Welsh international, so he’s quality and it’s been brilliant to have him involved in the setup.”
The U18s made a slow start to the season, falling to a 22-12 defeat against the Scarlets at Parc Y Scarlets in the opening round. The Ospreys then welcomed the Dragons to the Talbot Athletic Ground for round two, despite a valiant performance from the home side, the defending champions Dragons ran in the 24-38 winners.
“We had a bit of a slow start, similar to last year, but we’re miles ahead of last season. We may have lost those opening two fixtures, but we lost out due to our own mistakes. We definitely learnt from them and put those right against the Blues and RGC.”
The Ospreys went on to pick up two hard-fought wins at the home of the Aberavon Wizards in rounds three and four. Winning 20-12 against the Blues and 27-11 against RGC just five days later.
Speaking about the players, Davies praised his young side:
“I don’t like to single out players, but Lewis Jones is the ultimate professional. He just came back from playing for Wales U18s and he was keen to get straight back involved and into the regional game. We started him in every game, and he was extremely professional both on and off the field, he was in form and we expect him to carry on with his development going into block two.”
He added: “Tristan Davies has also been exceptional In terms of leadership qualities on the pitch as well as off. He’s always willing to learn, always asking questions and you can see the learning on the pitch which is real quality. Other stand out players from me are Joe Hawkins and Josh Carrington, they’re great performers and the squad on the whole have really progresses during this block.”
Looking ahead to the second block of the tournament and areas the squad can work on, Davies said:
“I think the main findings of this block was that we’d have a lot of possession in every single game, we’d spend a lot of time in the oppositions 22, but we wouldn’t come away with the points we deserved. We were making a lot of mistakes in that area. Looking ahead, we need to build on ensuring composure in that area, put scenarios to the boys in that attacking third and keep delivering those messages that we have to come away with the points and composure is needed."
"As well as that, our defence wasn’t up to scratch. We were defending reasonably well but it’s not up to the intimidating defence that we want. SO those are two areas we definitely need to work on ahead of the second block.”
The Ospreys U18s will resume with block two of the Regional age-grade championships on Wednesday 29th January against the Scarlets U18s.