Another impressive performance from the Eyasses books them a spot in next week's Regional Age Grade final
After a tough start to their campaign, where they sufferedheavy defeats by the Blues and Scarlets, the young Ospreys have turned their season around in the most impressive manner. They went into tonight's game against the Dragons second in the league, but thanks to just five points separating the top four teams, they knew only a win would do to get them a place in the Regional Age Grade Final.
It was a determined start for the Eyasses as Charlie Davies collected the ball from the starting kick and broke through the Dragons defence. When the following kick downfield was knocked on by the Dragons, the young Ospreys found themselves in control of a scrum on their opponents' 22. Incredibly quick play across field soon had them in prime position to score but when the Dragons were penalised they opted to go for the kick. Despite a difficult angle, Phil Jones managed to slot it right between the posts to get the Eyasses an early lead after 2 minutes.
The Dragons have also had an impressive turn around in their season and were quick to show why from the restart. For the next 15 minutes they had the majority of the possession and continually attacked the Eyasses back line. The home side weathered phase after phase of attacking play from the Dragons and a mixture of their strong defensive efforts and handling errors from the visitors, in part due to the Eyasses pressure, meant that despite being within touching distance of the try line four times, they were unable to finish off the moves to score.
When they Eyasses kept the ball in hand rather than kicking it away they looked incredibly dangerous and as they entered the second quarter they managed to take and keep control of the ball. The Dragons being penalised for offside allowed Matthew Aubrey a kick to touch, which he placed perfectly just feet from the try line. Again the Eyasses showed impressive team work and handling skills as they sent the ball across the field, but agonisingly knocked on just shy of the try line.
It didn't take them long to be back on the attack and minutes later, when the Dragons received a yellow card, they took full advantage of their one man overlap and Charlie Davies powered over for the first try of the evening. Phil Jones adding the conversion to extend their lead.
Despite keeping the ball in hand and looking much stronger than they had in the first quarter of the game, the Eyasses couldn't manage to break through the Dragons defence in the remaining ten minutes of the first half and it ended:
Ospreys Under 18's 10 - 0 Dragons Under 18's
As they had in the first half, the Dragons took control of the ball and kept it in hand, putting pressure on the young Ospreys from the start. They powered towards the try line but again the Eyasses soaked up their efforts and held them out.
As soon as the Eyasses had the ball in hand they again started to look dangerous. Their passing was quick and ball handling impressive, as was their pace up the wing. After one attack was halted by being taken into touch, they were quickly back on the offensive and Kieran Williams made a beautiful break from just outside his own half. A dummy pass left him free to race the rest of the way to put the ball down between the posts. With 9 minutes gone in the second half, Phil Jones added the conversion.
When the Dragons were penalised for holding on right in front of their own posts a few minutes later, Phil Jones took the score to 20 - 0 with his 4th successful kick of the evening.
Just a minute later, more strong team work from the young Ospreys had them right back in the danger zone, putting pressure on the Dragons defence. The pack powered over in the corner and Mitchell Walsh touched the ball down to claim the Eyasses third and final try of the night. The difficult angle of the kick meant that Phil Jones was unable to convert.
Despite trailing by 25 points, with twenty minutes of the game remaining the Dragons were nowhere near ready to throw the towel in. The carried on attacking hard whenever they had control of the ball. The Eyasses defence held out well again, but with the replacements coming thick and fast for both sides, play was disrupted and eventually the Dragons pushed their way over to score their only points of the evening as the conversion hit the posts.
Phil Jones had an opportunity to round out the scoring after the Dragons were again penalised for holding on to the ball, however his kick sailed just right of the posts. Despite several more phases of attack from the visitors before the final whistle, two more knock ons spoilt their chances and the game ended:
Ospreys Under 18's 25 - 5 Dragons Under 18's
Steffan Jones, Head Coach of the Eyasses remarked on his team's season and victory:
"I'm absolutely delighted with tonight, one of, if not the best performance this season. It was very clinical, the defence was outstanding, despite being stuck on our try line for fifteen minutes in the first half we didn't concede which was a huge moment in the game for me.
"I'm so pleased with the turnaround in our season. 8, 10 weeks ago I was so disappointed after the Blues game so the turn around since then, which is all down to the boys, has shown such character. Fair play to the boys, they have trained in all conditions and really developed character over the last few months.
"We're happy with tonight but we know all it's done is present us with another game next week and we won't be wholly satisfied until we have performed well in that game and we'll be going all guns blazing to get the win."
Will Jones, tonight's captain, added:
"It's great to have won and got through to the final, especially after the start to the season we've had. I think the win away against the Dragons was the turning point for us when we realised we were good enough to compete and make it into the top spots.
"As pleased as we are with tonight's win, especially winning by 20 points, we know we can't see too much into the result as we now have to focus on training and getting ready for next week which we know is going to be much harder but the boys are really up for the challenge."