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WRU RAG Championship to come down to the wire

Age Grade & Academy | 12th February 2020

The WRU Regional Age Grade Championship will come down to the wire after Ospreys secured victory over Cardiff Blues under-18 on Tuesday.

Wales’ Capital Region needed maximum points to secure the title at Sardis Road, but they remain on top of the table with a three-point lead ahead of Scarlets, who drew with Dragons on Tuesday.

They will go head-to-head in a winner-takes-all clash against the west Wales region at Sardis Road next Tuesday.

Heading into last night’s clash, Ospreys were the only side to record a win over Cardiff Blues in this season’s Championship.

However, it was a perfect start for the hosts, who crossed the whitewash for the opening score after only four minutes of action.

Having found themselves deep in the opposition 22, the home side went through the forwards and the patience paid off as Alex Mann squirmed his way to the try line.

Ben Burnell slotted the extras, but moments later the score were back level.

A powerful carry from centre Joe Hawkins gave the visitors a platform, and they managed to take advantage of space on the right to send back row Kyan Lloyd over. Man-of-the-match Hawkins added the conversion.

The conditions were atrocious in Pontypridd, with both sides making unforced errors while looking to build momentum.

But with half time approaching, Ospreys struck to take the lead with a line-out move straight from the training ground.

The pod diverted to create space at the front of the line, giving number eight Jordan Evans acres of space to take the short throw and gallop downfield. The back row had support, but opted to go alone and managed to beat the final defender to touch down.

Burnell struck a stunning long-range penalty to narrow the Ospreys’ lead to a point, but Hawkins replied with a big effort of his own.

With less than five minutes remaining, Ospreys struck for a decisive breakaway try.

Having broken down the blindside of a maul, replacement prop Cameron Jones made the hard yards.

He was tackled by Iestyn Galton, but the ball slipped out of the tackle, with Josh Carrington hacking ahead and touching down. The assistant referee judged the ball had been knocked backwards from a Cardiff Blues hand, allowing the score to stand.

Next up for Cardiff Blues under-18 is a trip to Scotland over the weekend before they host Scarlets at Sardis Road next Tuesday.

Joint head coach Craig Everett said: “To be honest, we let ourselves down.

“You can’t make that many unforced errors and give away that many penalties and expect to win a game.

“We need to take a good look at ourselves now and have a week to get things right before we play the Scarlets again.

“From our side, it was a very disappointing performance.

“This will be a good test of character for the boys. They need to learn very quickly and they can’t afford to go into their shells.

“It’s nice to have a quick turnaround because it gives us an ability to bounce back very quickly.

“We have a four-day trip away to Scotland first, which will be a good chance for the boys to gel together, but I’m sure there will be some honest words spoken before then after this disappointment.

“Having all to play for on the final day is exciting of course. There’s only a two-point gap between us and the Scarlets and that’s something to look forward to.”