The Under 16's from East Ospreylia suffer defeat in their first game of the season after a strong comeback from the Dragons
On a cold and wet evening more befitting December thanAugust, the Ospreys East Under 16's side got their Regional Age Grade season underway with a trip to Ystrad Mynach. The Dragons North side awaited them and despite the Ospreys looking dangerous in their opponents 22, it was the home team's impressive breaks and strong runs that gained them the victory.
In a game strewn with handling errors thanks to the slippery pitch and wet ball, it was the Dragons North side that had the strongest start. Within seconds of kick off they were charging towards the line but the first of many knock ons hampered their efforts.
Despite the home side gaining the vast majority of possession and territory in the early part of the game and making yards with every move, the young Ospreys defence held well and instead with 14 minutes on the clock it was they who managed to score the first points. After the Dragons were penalised, a kick for touch saw the Eyasses inside their opponents 22 for the first time. After more infringements from the home side the Ospreys were even closer to the try line and a fabulous break by Harry Morgan got them to within touching distance before a quick pass out to the unmarked Harry Hopkins allowed him to slide over in the corner. Attempting to convert his own try, Hopkins effort sailed just wide of the posts.
After a lot of play in the middle of the field with both teams showing moments of promise but unable to make it count it was again the Ospreys who got points on the board. While the Eyasses midfield efforts lacked real danger, during the first half once they got into the 22 they looked almost unstoppable. Yet another impressive break from scrum half Harry Morgan came and he dodged around defenders easily before passing to Tom Davies, who despite having three Dragons hanging on to him, powered over the line. Hopkins again unable to convert, with his second effort hitting the crossbar.
With just a few minutes to go until half time it looked like the Ospreys would hold onto their 10 point lead as their defence held strong against the Dragons huge efforts to batter through. However just as the Dragons infringements had earlier helped the young Ospreys, it was the Eyasses turn to be penalised and when the Dragons were awarded a line out on the 5 metre line they were able to power through the Ospreys back line to score. Their failed conversion attempt bringing the first half to a close
Half time: Dragons North 5 - 10 Ospreys East
The Dragons strength certainly lay in their powerful runs and while the Ospreys East side were able to defend fairly easily in close contact, they had little answer to the home sides huge breaks. With six minutes gone in the second half a quick ball from the scrum saw a lone Dragon hurtling towards the try line. With no Osprey able to catch him the Dragons got their second try. The successful conversion giving the home side the lead for the first time.
Soon after it looked like the Eyasses had taken back their lead when they powered to the try line but a knock on pulled them back just a couple of feet short. Several more knock ons, particularly for the Dragons, spoilt opportunities as both teams struggled with the conditions.
As the game entered the last quarter the Ospreys East Under 16's were again left scrabbling back to defend another massive break by the home team. Despite some great tackles by the visitors they couldn't hold them and the Dragons crashed over to extend their lead with another converted try.
Impressive work from Harry Morgan and Dewi Cross brought the Eyasses back into the Dragons 22, where the side continued to look dangerous. Before they could get themselves back into contention they were penalised for holding on and the chance came to an end.
As the game drew to a close the young Ospreys defence improved and despite some more stunning breaks and runs from the home side, they read the Dragons play and between that and the home sides continued handling errors no more tries were scored.
Full time: Dragons North 19 - 10 Ospreys East
Acting Head Coach, Nicky Roberts, commented on his side's first game:
"It was difficult conditions for the boys tonight and there were a lot of errors from both teams but I'm pleased considering that was our first competitive match. I know the Dragons have played a few fixtures so I'm really pleased with the performance. There's a lot to work on and the result wasn't what we wanted, but particularly in the first half the performance was good.
"There's a lot of rugby in these boys, there's a lot of talented players. I think the biggest thing tonight for them was patience. Particularly with the conditions, I think we forced the offload once or twice, and just having the ability to go through the phases a little bit mor,e but I think there's going to be quite a few tries in them. The weather was difficult tonight but I think when we do get a better day we're going to see a lot of tries from this team.
"There's quite a few different areas that we'll be looking to work on. We haven't had the group that long this year so it's been a shorter preseason so there's work to do in quite a few areas particularly in defensive organisation, a little bit on contact and just reinforcing what we have covered already."