Both Bridgend and Neath Port Talbot Colleges suffered their first defeats of the season on Wednesday.
Bridgend suffered their first loss of the 2013/14 WRU Wednesday Under 18 League as they were edged out by an injury time try from opponents Coleg Sir Gar.
It wasn’t the most thrilling start to the game for either side as Bridgend travelled west to Coleg Sir Gar in Llanelli for the last week of games before the Cup competition begins. Play was hampered by the strong wind sending kicks wild and handling errors from both sides.
Bridgend had the first real opportunity to attack but a strong defensive line from Coleg Sir Gar bundled them into touch before they could really get going. Sir Gar responded straight away from the line out and quickly made progress into the Bridgend half. Bridgend were forced to regroup to try to keep up their defence however they were let off when Sir Gar knocked on before they could score.
In a recurrent theme for the game, both sides were repeatedly penalised for various offences which made it hard for anyone to get any momentum going. Owen Watkin made a fantastic break for Bridgend but the attack was soon halted when the visitors were penalised for going in over the top.
Kicks not finding touch were a problem for both sides but it was the stronger Coleg Sir Gar team that took advantage of this when a kick landed in the hands of their powerful number 8 who powered down the pitch before passing to a fellow forward who slipped over the line. With the wind almost gone Coleg Sir Gar easily converted and put them 7 – 0 up after 18 minutes played.
Bridgend College tried to equal the scores straight away but with no intensity to their game they were unable to convert their efforts and were penalised for holding on right in front of the posts. Instead the Coleg Sir Gar side showed their first half dominance and despite some strong tackles by the visitors, their intelligent passes and individual clever breaks allowed them to stroll over the line again just 8 minutes after their first try. Another successful conversion followed.
Sir Gar’s pack weren’t easing up and just a minute after kick off their hooker almost crossed the line but a knock on prevented Bridgend going three tries down in the first half. The last few minutes of play saw Bridgend wake up a little but despite good breaks by Owen Watkin, Morgan Tooze and Jakob Williams the home sides defence stayed strong and the first half ended with Coleg Sir Gar leading 14 points to 0.
Bridgend knowing they must improved their game, came out with renewed purpose in the second half. A Rhodri Davies break carried on by second row Gethin John saw the visitors make huge progress up the field. Their efforts were rewarded when, with 2 minutes played, Reuben Tooze literally jumped over the Coleg Sir Gar defence to score their first try of the game. Rhodri Davies successfully converted a minute later.
Edd Howley then took his opportunity to go on the offensive and only a slip from Dan Lockear when he received the ball stopped Bridgend evening the scores. Bridgend were on a roll and Jon Lodwig interception of a bad Sir Gar pass allowed Gareth Evans Rees to charge the line however Sir Gar’s lead was saved again with Bridgend penalised for holding on.
Strong scrums further helped Bridgend’s new found dominance and allowed more offensive moves. Owen Watkin again almost scored but a pass to Jakob Williams completed the move. The ensuing conversion by Rhodri Davies left the score 14 all thirteen minutes into the second half.
The following 10 minutes of play saw both sides try to get ahead but they were matched too evenly and neither could make the most of their chances. The first penalty kick of the game was awarded to Bridgend 25 minutes into the second half and the successful kick put Bridgend into the lead for the first time with the score 14 – 17.
However the win was not to be theirs. The final passages of play saw Coleg Sir Gar, who had mostly been quiet in the second half, return to their previous form and constantly batter the Bridgend line. The Bridgend defence stayed strong however until a yellow card saw them go down to 14 men. Coleg Sir Gars constant attack eventually proved too much and in injury time they powered over the try line. The missed conversion didn’t affect their win and the final score was 19 – 14.
Gareth Nicholas, Bridgend Head Coach on the loss:
“I’m hugely disappointed to have lost the game but we let ourselves down in the first half. The boys don’t normally get the home truth treatment at half time as it’s not our style but we went for them and it worked as they came out all guns blazing in the second half. I think they did rise to the challenge and though we obviously really wanted the win it’s all about development and I think that’s something the boys have done massively over the last few weeks as they have improved enormously.”
In the other Ospreylian game Neath Port Talbot College travelled to Taffs Well where they were beaten by Coleg y Cymoedd. The home side who are one of the strongest in this year’s competition ran out a 47 – 5 win over a NPTC side who were second best in all aspects of the game.