Despite a late comeback from NPTC, Gower College had done enough to claim a bonus point victory over their regional rivals
It was a wet, cold and windy Loughor RFC that saw GowerCollege Swansea and Neath Port Talbot College face off against each other for the second time in a fortnight today in the WRU Wednesday Under 18 League.
Gower College Swansea managed a bonus point victory last time out against their regional rivals from Neath Port Talbot but with a fresh start in the shape of the league competition and NPTC getting their first win of the season last week, nothing was set in stone as they faced each other again.
However from the first whistle, Gower College showed why they are favourites to take home the silverware in the Trophy competition this year. Early pressure from the home team secured them a penalty with only a minute on the clock. Matthew Aubrey slotting it between the posts for the first points of the game.
GCS were quickly back on the attack and the NPTC defence couldn't hold them out as some impressive passing and team work from the Gower boys soon put them onto the scoreboard with a try scored by Stuart Nicholas. Matthew Aubrey adding the conversion.
In the following minutes, Gower College were only held back from scoring three more tries by their own handling errors. With glaring gaps in the NPTC defence, they were almost guaranteed to score but knock ons spoilt their opportunities at the last minute.
Just as the home side looked to be in complete control of the game, a great interception and run by Neath Port Talbot had them scrabbling back to defend their own try line . With NPTC piling on the pressure as they tried to make it the last few feet, it was an outstanding effort from the Swansea side to hold them out and eventually regain the ball.
As soon as they were back with ball in hand Gower looked dangerous and some clever play soon set Phil Jones up to get Gower's second try. Despite the conditions Matthew Aubrey again putting the ball right between the posts for the conversion.
Five minutes later and with just seconds remaining on the clock, Neath were penalised twice and the resulting scrum and line out for Gower got them back into their opponent's 22. The pack making the rest of the ground before a quick ball out to Angus Morris saw him cross the line for GCS. Another successful conversion from Matthew Aubrey brining the first half to a close.
HT: Gower College Swansea 24 - 0 Neath Port Talbot College
Both teams came out fighting in the second half, testing both each other's defence and the referee's patience, as he penalised both teams several times. Eventually it was Gower that were able to make the break, Tom Howell out-pacing the NPTC defence and running in from the half way line to get Gower the bonus point try. Matthew Aubrey's kick hitting the posts but bouncing inside them to add the conversion.
There was more tremendous pace on show as the third quarter drew to a close. Firstly Luke Williams almost making the Gower try line with a fantastic break, before GCS managed to turn them over, and then Keelan Giles powering up the wing for the home team. Unlike Neath, they were able to make the most of their opportunities, as some more great team work saw Keelan pass inside to Stuart Nicholas who completed the move. Matthew Aubrey and his perfect kicking extending the score to 38 - 0 with the conversion.
Full credit to Neath Port Talbot as they never once gave up and instead staged a strong comeback. With Gower College being handed two yellow cards in the last 15 minutes, they dominated the final quarter. Despite some impressive defence by the home team, NPTC battered away as they desperately tried to get on the score sheet. With 22 minutes played, Neath Port Talbot were rewarded for their determined passage of play as Adam Nation finally got them their first points with an unconverted try.
With Gower College suffering a two man deficit, Neath Port Talbot made fairly easy work of powering across to score their second minutes later. Iwan Evans converting Luke Williams' try.
The visitors were straight back on it and with Gower consistently being penalised it wasn't a great surprise when another fantastic attack by NPTC eventually pushed Gower backwards and forced them to concede again. Jacapo Tomaselli getting the final try of the game and Iwan Evans adding another two points with the conversion.
The final two minutes saw some scrappy play from both teams as they tried to defend and attack whilst also battling the wind with their kicks. After an NPTC knock on, Gower were able to kick the ball into touch to bring the game to a close.
FT: Gower College Swansea 38 - 19 Neath Port Talbot College
Dan Cluroe, Head Coach at Gower College Swansea, remarked on his team's win:
"It was a very pleasing game today, especially to get the bonus point, I'm really happy with that. I think we were harshly done by with the yellow cards to be honest and I think the score line didn't reflect our dominance over all .Neath are always tough but I think we were leagues ahead today so I'm happy with elements of the game. But to play the last twenty minutes with 13 men is pretty tough".
There was also disappointment for Bridgend College today, the only Ospreylian side in the upper tier of the competition, as they suffered a 33 - 19 defeat in Llandovery.