With two bonus points wins in the bag, the Ospreys U18s have made quite an impression in the opening weeks of the new WRU Regional Age-grade Championship.
Praising the young squad on their efforts to date, head coach of the U18s Kevin James said:
“After a short amount of preparation time heading into the RAG competition block, the whole group from the start of December, listened and worked hard, always pushing their own and group standards.
“Underpinning this is our core coaching team with the U18s and, in addition, we have gained additional guidance and support off Ospreys senior coaches, players and ex-players including Tom Habberfield, Duncan Jones and Andrew Bishop.
“The key message heading into the competition was we’re all as one together all coaches, staff, and players, where we should enjoy the down time but when asked to work everyone must switch on and apply themselves in an elite, fun but professional, environment.”
First up for the squad was an early Sunday morning start where they travelled to Colwyn Bay to face RGC:
“We made sure the whole group travelled up and back together to build a strong culture through togetherness on the bus with some challenges, songs and jokes being played on the bus” said James.
“After a long journey spirits remained high heading into what is always a tough place to get a result at RGC.
“Early in the first half we dominated possession and territory, however due to it being our first game there were understandably a few errors. We kept playing though and challenged RGC scoring three great tries involving backs and forwards going in 6-17 up at half time.
“Decisions started to go against us in the second half and we struggled to regain a foothold in the game, despite having the one man advantage, until right at the death where some neat interplay between backs and forwards allowed us to score and gain our fourth and bonus point try to secure an away win to start the season..”
Crowning their own men of the match, forward of the game went to skipper Will Griffiths whilst Callum Carson scooped back of the match.
With a short three-day turnaround time before their next game, the boys had little time to prepare for their game against the Blues at Llandarcy on a very cold Wednesday evening.
“Preparation was limited but as a group we did focus on a few key work on areas heading into the Blues game” James continued.
“We rewarded the majority of the squad with another start however we did have to make a few changes to freshen up the squad. The boys were confident heading into the game with the clear message of playing what's in front of them and expressing themselves. Early in the first half the Blues had more of the possession and territory, but our new defensive system in large remained strong and limited their opportunities.
“We grew into the game gaining more confidence, and possession where backs and forwards interlinked to score 3 great team tries heading into half time with a 22-8 lead. The second half continued the way the first half finished with us dominating and scoring our fourth, and another bonus point try.”
Coming away with a 29-18 win against the Blues and another bonus point secured, the coaches awarded double try scorer Will Baraclough forward of the match, and centre Callum Carson earned his second back of the match.
The U18s have a bye this week with their next fixture on Tuesday 31st January at Llandovery RFC K.O 7:30pm where they take on the Scarlets U18s.
Full fixtures for the U18s can be found here.