A thrilling second half comeback saw the Ospreys U16's clinch the WRU Regional Age Grade Championship with a 32-29 victory over Blues South in the final at Cardiff Arms Park yesterday evening.
The Eyasses were losing 22-6 as they headed back to the changing rooms for half-time but came out a completely different team. All four of their tries were scored in the second half with outside-half, Luke Price, kicking 12 of the team’s points.
Both Eyasses centres, Martyn Davies and Joe Thomas, managed to grab themselves a try each while winger, Jordan Adderley and fullback, Lewis Evans showed brilliant finishing to score in opposite corners.
As the game started, the young Ospreys seemed nervous and didn’t seem able to keep hold of the ball. A couple of mistakes and bit of ill-discipline gave Blues South great field position and possession throughout the first half.
Blues South looked to gain yards on every carry, providing their backs with the platform to attack. The Eyasses got their first chance but they spilled the ball and the Blues quickly hacked the ball down the field, putting the men in green under pressure.
The Blues gathered their lineout in an attacking position. They went through the phases and managed to create quick ball before sending their winger over in the corner.
Following the try, the Eyasses had an opportunity for a shot at goal on the Blues 10metre line after some solid scrummaging from the pack. Price slotted it with composure.
Again, the Eyasses put themselves under pressure when they gave away a penalty for obstruction on their own lineout in their twenty-two. The Blues scrum half quickly tapped the ball before being dragged down short. His pack swiftly recycled the ball to pick up and bundle over to grab their team’s second try.
The Blues found themselves back in the Eyasses twenty two almost immediately following an infringement from the kick off. The patience in the Blues play showed as they went through the phases retaining possession. A bounce pass dragged a couple of Eyasses defenders out of the line enabling the Blues loosehead to gather the ball before linking up with his number 8 who popped off to his inside centre to score.
Hope was not lost as Eyasses continued to pressure for a score before half-time. Adam Green escaped down the wing before being tackled into touch. They stole the resulting line-out and managed to put pressure on the Blues before Price struck a sweet drop-goal, knowing he had an advantage.
Things worsened at the start of the second half as the Blues crossed for a try early on. They piled the pressure on the Eyasses from the kick off and started a counter attack following a box kick. The Eyasses quashed the threat but lost the ball forward in the process.
The Blues number eight picked the ball up promptly as his pack were back-pedalling, providing his team with some ball on the front foot. The ball was quickly whipped out to the Blues winger who danced his way through tacklers to score beneath the sticks.
An immediate reply was issues by the Eyasses who managed to break and keep ball in hand. The ball found its way out to Evans who shrugged off a tackle to get his team’s first try of the evening.
The pendulum was starting to swing in the Eyasses favour as they begun to go through the phases and build up some momentum, causing the Blues to become frustrated and give away penalties. Price, instead of kicking for goal, looked for the line-out.
The Eyasses claimed their lineout and looked to drive the ball over the line with a maul. When the Blues managed to bring the powerful maul down, the Eyasses had another go. The maul was stopped at source so the ball came to the backs. Price made a glorious pass to outside centre, Davies, who cut through the defence at a strong angle to score the try.
More pressure was piled on by the Eyasses, as they looked to get back into the game. Davies managed to isolate the Blues winger in his own half to earn his side another penalty. Following their previous success, they again went for the corner.
Another driving maul was expected by the Blues, but to their surprise, the Eyasses used off the top ball. A scramble defence from the Blues and plenty of last ditch tackling prevented the Eyasses from grabbing another try. The Blues forced the turnover but the clearing kick didn’t leave the twenty-two.
From the line-out, the ball was spun out to inside centre, Thomas, who showed dazzling feet to elude several defenders to bring his team back into the game with ten minutes of the match remaining. It was a sensational solo score which gave the team even more belief,
In their own half, the Eyasses sent the ball through the hands and let their three quarters show their pace. Davies broke out wide and had Green on his shoulder but missed the opportunity to score.
The Eyasses went through the phases with strong carrying from Max Easey and Kurt Leadbetter ,creating quick ball for their half back. The ball was then spun out wide to second row, Adam Beard, who floated a pass to Adderley who squeezed over in the corner to put his side in the lead for the first time in the game. Price slotted a brilliant touchline conversion to provide his team with a three point lead.
Defending the lead was the next test for the young Ospreys. On several occasions within the last few minutes, last ditch tackles from Callum Bowden and Tom Evans managed to scupper the Blues team hopes of clinching the trophy. The Eyasses fought valiantly and managed to hold on to the lead to secure a memorable victory, the Eyasses fifth U16 Championship win in eight seasons.
The Eyasses Backs Coach, Keith Hopkins had this to say on the win:
“The second half performance was immense. We tried to take the pressure off the boys by saying that regardless of the end result, we wanted a performance to be proud of. We’re already proud of them, as coaches we’ve seen them grow throughout the season. All we wanted them to do was do themselves justice, and that’s what they did.”