Despite being committed till the end it was not the start that the U16s Combined hoped for as the Cardiff Blues’ clinical technique saw them secure the win in their warm-up match.
After welcoming the Cardiff Blues U16s to the Gnoll, the Ospreys U16s Combined looked to get the ball rolling and make their mark on this block of fixtures by taking the victory. But fortune was not in their favour as errors prevented them from completing the final phases in order to score the points.
With the perfect rugby-playing conditions, it was only a matter of minutes from the kick-off that the Ospreys got their first try of the game. A handling error by our opponents in midfield saw the young Ospreys capitalise on this, and with good hands and support, Kyan Lloyd crossed the whitewash with less than two minutes on the clock, which was successfully converted by Dan Edwards.
During these opening exchanges, both teams looked to exploit each other’s weaknesses as much of the rugby was played between both teams’ 22s.
With eight-minutes played, an infringement by the Ospreys on the half-way line saw Gruff Tough take a quick tap-and-go, and through good hands and vision, got the ball to Iwan P Jones who used his speed to cross the line from the Ospreys’ 22 on the narrow side for an unconverted try. The visitors were now close on the heels of the young Ospreys, as the scoreboard showed 7-5.
Handling errors in these early stages continued to let the Ospreys down and allowed the visitors to regain possession. Both sets of backs looked to play an expansive game, by going through the phases and driving down the middle channel, however, these efforts went unrewarded due to lapses in concentration.
With 20 on the clock, both defences were on top as each side tried to put the ball wide and find the gap in each other’s walls. However, both teams were unable to break the gain line.
25 minutes into the game, the Ospreys changed their loose and tight-head props.
Despite their best efforts to pressurise each other, infringements continued to dominate in the last few phases for both teams and resulted in the inability to reap the rewards for these endeavours.
As the half-time whistle approached, the hosts upped the tempo and looked to punch holes through the Blues defence, but it remained intact. Despite playing rugby in the right areas, the Ospreys endured a frustrating first half, which was littered with last-minute infringements and relieved the pressure for the defensive side, which saw the score remain at 7-5. The Ospreys held onto the marginal lead, as the boys entered the tunnel for half-time.
HALF TIME: OSPREYS U16S COMBINED 7 – 5 CARDIFF BLUES U16S
After ringing the changes at half-time, the Ospreys took to the field to get the second-half underway and looked to improve on their first half performance.
However, with only two minutes of this second-half played, our opponents were the first to reap the rewards, as after going through the phases and wearing down the hosts’ defence, their inside centre, Ryan Wilkins, crossed the line under the sticks, Ben Burnell with the extras, taking the score to 7-12.
It wasn’t long before the Ospreys fought back and set up camp in the Blues’ 22. The hosts pressurised the line with a mixture of pick-up and goes, and opening it up to the wider channels, but were unable to punch holes through the Blue wall, which remained solid and sucked up the pressure. However, another Ospreys infringement handed possession back and saw the ball travel back up-field, where the hosts found themselves under pressure in their own half.
Both teams continued to ring the changes, which despite playing with full commitment, altered the dynamics of the game, as it disrupted the fluency of play.
With 60-minutes on the clock, the visitors were reduced to 14-men as the Cardiff Blues second-row, Danny Perry, was yellow-carded for an infringement. The young Ospreys looked to capitalise on this advantage however, a stolen ball from Ospreys lineout 5-metres out and relieved this pressure.
As the clock wound down to full-time, the visitors used their wider channels to take the ball upfield and asked questions of the Ospreys defence, who now found themselves under pressure. The home team were unable to take advantage of the extra man as Perry returned to the field.
In the closing-minutes, the visitors attacked the Ospreys line. However, a high-tackle by Tom Florence saw him yellow-carded and the Ospreys reduced to 14-men. The hosts now found themselves under immense pressure.
From a Blues’ lineout 5-metres out, the ball was passed out wide to the open side from a maul, a long mis-pass from midfield saw the ball find its way into Jones’ hands, who sprinted over the line from close range in the corner for his second try of the game, which was well converted by Burnell, to take the score to 7 – 19 in the dying seconds.
Despite a very evenly fought match from both sides, a clinical game from saw Cardiff Blues take the honours as they proved too strong on the night for the hosts who were fully committed to the end.
FULL-TIME: OSPREYS U16S COMBINED 7 – 19 CARDIFF BLUES U16S