The young Ospreys U18s fought hard when they took on the Gloucester Academy on Saturday afternoon, but were undone by a sluggish start that saw them go behind early on.
At the same time as the seniors were in Challenge Cup action in France on Saturday afternoon, the Ospreys U18s faced Gloucester Academy at Ysgol Bae Baglan in a friendly clash acting as a warm up in preparation for the second block of WRU Regional Age Grade matches that gets underway this month.
From the off, the Ospreys U18s were on the defensive and the visitors took an early lead.
An interception from Gloucester’s centre, Louis Rees-Zammit, followed by a kick and chase, saw the ball travel the length of the field, which resulted in a Gloucester scrum on the five-metre line. From the ensuing scrum, a cross-field kick was successfully collected by winger, Max Fletcher, who went over and touched down in the corner, successfully converted by Tommy Mathews
Gloucester continued to look sharp in attack and from a five-metre lineout, a rolling maul saw Layton Chambers cross the whitewash, Mathews with the extras, which pushed them further into the lead, 0-14.
The Ospreys rallied back and a break by Iestyn Hopkins, Ospreys’ full back, put his team in a good position.
An infringement at a ruck, led to an Ospreys penalty and they went for a lineout. After a series of mauls were illegally halted by Gloucester the referee awarded a penalty try to halve the deficit shortly before the break.
There was still time for Gloucester to respond, regaining before the ball was moved quickly out wide, which resulted in an overlap where Fletcher crossed the line, and saw Mathews add the extras.
HALF TIME: OSPREYS U18S 7 – 21 GLOUCESTER ACADEMY
The Ospreys made a number of changes at half-time, but it was Gloucester who were soon on the attack and, from a quick-tap penalty, the visitors broke the Ospreys’ defensive line through the middle channel and an eventual offload to Josh Gray, saw him cross over the whitewash in the corner, for an unconverted try.
Once again the Ospreys fought back and were going through the phases and holding onto the ball, applying pressure onto the Academy’s defence. The Ospreys were now looking comfortable with the ball in hand and saw them increase the tempo of the game.
With 10 minutes left to play, the Ospreys made a break for the corner but a knock on prevented the try being awarded. Undeterred, the young Ospreys continued to press and after going through the phases on Gloucester’s five-metre line, it was Luke Butler who touched down for their second, unconverted, try.
In the dying minutes of the game, a handling error from the Ospreys saw Gloucester gain territory and secure another try as Gloucester’s number 22 forced his way across the line, Mathews with the extras.
The Ospreys now look forward to the next block of fixtures which start on January 30th where they face Scarlets U18s at Parc y Scarlets.