Cardiff Blues U18 win Regional Age Grade Championship

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Cardiff Blues U18 secured a second bonus point win of the season over Scarlets U18 to win the 2019/20 Regional Age Grade Championship at Sardis Road.

Aled James and Craig Everett’s side led the table going into the final game of the campaign but needed a result against the West Wales side in order to secure the trophy for the first time since 2015/16.

After a weekend in Scotland playing against the national U18 side, there was plenty of changes to the Cardiff Blues side as a number of players got their first starts of the season and in some cases their first exposure to U18 RAG rugby.

However the changes did not hamper the hosts who started quickly with a Tyler Morris penalty before Alfie Llewellyn got the first try of the game after Zak Fifield had managed to get a kick down field after a Scarlets handling error.

The away side get on the scoresheet themselves when Harri Williams dived over from close range but the lead was extended again by Cardiff Blues when Ioan Cooper carried up to the try line and Travis Green was on hand to get over from a yard out.

Despite further opportunities to score more tries though the hosts could only settle for another Morris penalty and when Scarlets got an opportunistic try thanks to a bounce off the corner flag the half-time score was still close at 18-10.

A slow start to the second half from Cardiff Blues saw the lead cut down to just one-point as the game headed into the last quarter with Josh Evans crossing out wide for the away side, and they won a penalty to set up a five-metre lineout with seven minutes to go.

However a handling error allowed Gwilym Evans to kick down field and Iwan Pyrs Jones’ pace helped take the game into the Scarlets 22. When Evans was on hand to charge down the clearance, Dylan Williams popped up to pounce on the loose ball and score his side’s third try.

A third Morris penalty had added another three points to the scoreboard and when Evans kicked another loose ball through with Pyrs Jones chasing and Iwan Skuse able to dive on the loose ball, the bonus point and the game was wrapped up.

Five points and a sixth win of the season capped off a fine campaign in which the U18s fought back twice from disappointing losses against the Ospreys and showed great squad depth and team spirit to rotate the matchday 23 on a number of occasions.

It’s a case of valuable development for all players as individuals and developing that competitive edge, with James and Everett, as well as their assistant coaches and backroom staff, and Gruff Rees above them as Academy Manager, taking deserved praise for their management this season.

Also a huge amount of credit must go to the players, their friends and families as it takes a huge amount of commitment to balance education and rugby at this level, but they have applied themselves and reaped the rewards. The future is blue!

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