The young Ospreys didn’t get the ending they wanted as the Cardiff Blues secured a final try in the last moments of play to take the honours in a very close encounter.
Welcoming the Cardiff Blues U16s Development to St. Helens, the Ospreys U16s Development looked to finish on a high in their last development clash of the triangular series.
Despite the hosts edging forward into the lead on several occasions, the Cardiff Blues brought up the rear each time to level the score, which created a tense encounter until the very end. However, it was the Cardiff Blues who took the honours with a last gasp try.
During the opening exchanges, the young Ospreys varied their play as they attempted to break down the Cardiff Blues’ defence. However, the Blues upped the tempo and sliced through the Ospreys’ defence on the half-way line to break the gain-line and pushed the Ospreys into their 22.
The Cardiff Blues were the first to get the scoreboard moving as they created an overlap by Evan Skuse coming into the line in the outer channels, which caused problems for the hosts. From a ruck out wide, the Cardiff scrum-half travelled down the narrow side to cross the whitewash. The young nine then picked himself up to successfully convert – putting the visitors into an early lead with only eight minutes on the clock.
The Ospreys were quick to fight back and level the score less than a minute later. A steal by Jack Goodridge saw him run 20-metres to set up a ruck under the posts and the ball was then put wide for Alex Hughes to crash over the line and dab down in the corner, Luca Caplin with the extras taking the score to 7-7.
A visitors’ infringement handed the Ospreys a penalty which resulted in a lineout on the Blues’ 5-metre line. An excellent break from by the Ospreys’ scrum-half, Marshall, down the narrow side saw him offload to George Lloyd who crashed over the line from close range, Caplin converting to push the hosts into the lead.
The Ospreys were playing with increased confidence and the ball in hand, as they looked to cross the gain-line on every occasion.
After a scrum on the Cardiff Blues 10-metre line, the visitors put the ball wide through quick hands and again, Skuse entered the line to create an overlap. Tomos Doyle, kicked and chased down the open side but after a big hit from the Ospreys defence, the Blues’ Jack Beynon collected the loose ball and drove over the line from close range, which was successfully converted to level the scoreboard with 25 minutes on the clock.
The Ospreys then set up camp in their opponents’ 22, and forced the Cardiff Blues to play a defensive game. From a ruck on the Blues 5-metre line, Sam Bolton picked up and forced his way over the line just wide of the posts, Caplin securing the extra two with his boot. This took the score to 21-14 as the half-time whistle blew and the boys left field at the half-way mark.
HALF-TIME: OSPREYS U16S DEVELOPMENT 21 – 14 CARDIFF BLUES 16S DEVELOPMENT
Both teams rung the changes at half-time, but it did not take them long to settle into the rhythm of the game.
The talk at half-time must have been to increase the tempo as both sides looked for quick ball and tap and goes.
The Ospreys’ lead was short lived as with less than 10-minutes of the second-half played, the score-board was once again level. A very well executed cross-field kick from the Cardiff Blues outside half saw him put the ball behind the Ospreys’ defence for the visiting right winger to collect and use his speed to race over the line for a breakaway try under the sticks, the extras taking the score to 21-21.
Despite their efforts in the visitor’s 22, the Ospreys were unable to break down the Blues’ defence which remained intact. Fortunes quickly turned as the Blues pushed the hosts into their own 22 and the Eyasses were forced to soak up the away-team’s pressure. With both sides unable to make the final pass to cross the whitewash, this saw both defences being tested but remaining on top.
As the game entered into the final 10-minutes of play, the Ospreys were reduced to 14-men as Ellis Hart was yellow carded for persistent infringements, which left the visitors looking to capitalise on the extra-man advantage.
Going through the phases, the Blues looked to break down the Ospreys’ defence and were rewarded for their persistence with three minutes left to play as Rian Evans found a hole in the Ospreys’ line to dive over the line for an unconverted try, pushing the away-side into the lead.
In the closing stages of the game, the Eyasses threw caution to the wind by throwing everything at the Cardiff Blues in a final bid to win it but they were unable to find a way over the whitewash.