Despite a bonus point win, they miss out on the top tier of competition after a shock result in West Wales
There was disappointment for Gower College Swansea thisafternoon after a shock victory by Cowbridge over a previously unstoppable Coleg Sir Gar, meant that despite their hard work they narrowly miss out on a place in the top tier of the competition.
The Swansea side knew that nothing but a bonus point victory over their regional rivals was going to be good enough to secure them a place in the top tier and they looked powerful from the first whistle. Neath Port Talbot have looked rather lacklustre so far this season, languishing on the bottom of the table without a victory, but the regional derby had certainly spurred them on as they too came out fighting.
After a few handling errors from both sides, it was Neath Port Talbot that got the first attack underway with a break from Keiran Thomas, but the GCS defence was impressive from start to finish and NPTC consistently found it difficult to make any progress against them as a pack.
Gower College having no such problems, they repeatedly found themselves close to the try line but handling errors and some good final defence from NPTC stopping them getting over the line. In the end their dogged determination was rewarded as James Taylor raced up the wing to put the first points on the board. Matthew Aubrey, with a difficult kick, was unable to make the conversion.
Just five minutes later, Neath Port Talbot found themselves in trouble again as the Gower pack pushed them back towards their try line, before mounting a great attack. With nothing in defence from NPTC, Jack Davies touched the ball down for the visitors. Another difficult angle saw Aubrey send the ball wide again.
From the restart Neath Port Talbot's turn to look dangerous. Despite Gower being repeatedly penalised, they couldn't get the 7 points and had to settle for a successful penalty kick by Iwan Evans to get them on the board.
The three points certainly reinvigorated the home team as they looked much stronger and got back into the game. While they were still unable to make any progress against the practically impenetrable Gower back line, they defended hard and stopped Gower from getting any more points on the board in the first half.
Half Time: Neath Port Talbot College 3 - 10 Gower College Swansea
There were strong words from the NPTC coaches at half time and it certainly looked like it hard worked to begin with as they returned to the field looking much improved. With just 4 minutes gone in the second half they were awarded a penalty and brought themselves back within 4 points.
GCS ultimately knew what was at stake though and were undoubtedly the stronger side. After Neath were penalised for holding on, Matthew Aubrey kicked his first points with a successful penalty and a few minutes later James Taylor intercepted a NPTC pass to score his second of the game. A successful conversion followed and Gower went looking for their 4th try.
It was Neath Port Talbot however who next crossed the try line. While they were unable to make any progress against a solid line of Gower defence, once they found the gap they were unstoppable and James Roberts slipped through several people to score. Despite his earlier form, Iwan Evans was unable to convert.
Despite their improved form in the second half, Neath Port Talbot were never going to hold out the persistent Gower side who knew they needed the bonus point try. When Aled Cockwell was penalised for a swinging arm, it just made GCS's job easier and with 5 minutes remaining, Ben Davies powered over for the bonus point.
With the job done for Gower, it was Neath Port Talbot who had the last say on the field as Keiran Williams made a beautiful break from the 22 and easily avoided the Gower defence to put the ball down between the posts. Iwan Evans with the successful conversion.
With a few more minutes remaining, both teams got their hands on the ball but neither could make it count and the game ended:
Neath Port Talbot 18 - 25 Gower College Swansea
After the final whistle, the news broke to the Gower side that despite their efforts in the group stages, a shock victory by Cowbridge College over double champions Coleg Sir Gar meant they were denied entry to the top flight of the competition as a disappointed Dan Cluroe, Gower Head Coach, explained:
"It's a huge shock result from Cowbridge. I spoke to Cole Sir Gar yesterday and they were supremely confident that they would win, but these things happen. Obviously it's hugely gutting from our point of view, we did the job we needed to do in terms of getting the bonus point win. We thought that that would be enough to take us up to the top tier but unfortunately not. We left it up to other people I guess to decide our fate, but that's sport.
We're devastated but we have to move on now and look at who we're going to play now next week and take every game as it comes now. We've just to do our best now and target winning that competition, that's our aim."
There was better news to the East of Ospreylia as Bridgend College made it into the top tier of the competition. They hosted Pembrokeshire College at Pencoed and eased their way into the Cup with 54 - 0 win over their visitors.