The Young Ospreys under 18 team achieved what nobody has managed in three attempts previously and lowered the colours of the Scarlets in a Reebok Final.
The Scarlets had won a clean sweep in the three finals last season and after five minutes it looked like a case of déjà vu when they opened the scoring with a try from scrum half Justin James. Having already narrowly beaten them twice this season the Young Ospreys were well aware that the Scarlets game plan would be to play a quick tempo, expansive game and counter attack from every opportunity. Therefore it was no surprise that the first try came from a counter attack after full back Luke Hathaway cleared his lines and made a good tackle on his opposite number, only to have his quality work undermined as a lazy blindside defence allowed good handling skills from the Scarlets to result in James’s try. In last seasons final the Young Ospreys got hit quickly and conceded two more tries and it was over as a contest early on. However, this Young Osprey team has learnt from previous experiences and they were not going to cave in again. Impressive wing Leigh Halfpenny hit back with a well executed penalty which was an important score psychologically. Apart from this score the Young Ospreys couldn’t gain any positives from an attacking standpoint when their game failed to flow as they lacked a regular stream of quality possession and when they did have opportunities, they often lost ball in the contact area. But this side has prided itself in a committed, well organised drift defence and on this occasion it ensured that the Scarlets only had one kickable penalty from which full back Daniel Evans gave them an 8 points to 3 lead. Then there was a five minute spell leading to half time when the Young Ospreys did manage to build its game and international hopeful prop Ryan Bevington scored a try which Halfpenny converted for a 10 points to 8 half time lead.
For the first time this season coach Ian Hembrow thought it necessary to tear into his forwards and criticise their efforts in not fronting up to their opponents. Then fellow coach Phil John pulled it together by reminding the players that even though they were not playing well they were still good enough to lead by 2 points and it was a game that was theirs to lose. The interval certainly worked in the Young Opsreys favour as they came out to score 10 unanswered points and win comfortably despite losing centre Tom Williams to a questionable yellow card. The points came with a penalty and conversion from the immaculate boot of Halfpenny and a try by Hathaway, who charged down a kick and gathered the loose ball when the Scarlets were forcing the game from within their own twenty two.
The squad will now take on a different look for the rest of the season as nine of the players will be developed by the national coaching team and take part in friendly fixtures against English and French Regions before embarking on a 5 match international programme. The rest of the squad will then fight to retain their places in the squad with a trial match against a Regional team that has been selected by the three Districts under 18 teams from the Osprey Region. This fixture will take place at South Wales Police ground on Tuesday 17th January, 7.15 kick off. Their first fixture as a new squad will then take place again at South Wales Police ground on Wednesday 8th February, 7.15 kick off.