Mountain Ash RFC | Youth Team 22 - 16 Newport HSOB RFC | Youth Team

Match Report
12 April 2019 / Team News

Young Firm Dig Deep To Win Champions Semi

The Young Firm – the Blues Premier division champions – registered their second win in six days to move into the Principality National Youth League Play-Offs Final where they will play either Crymych (champions of the Scarlets region) or Nant Conwy (champions of North Wales). Mount had beaten the Ospreys champions Neath Athletic 32-22 in Llanharan last Saturday, and travelled to Caerphilly last night for this semi-final match against the Dragons champions, Newport HSOB, who have had 5 players in total selected for the Welsh Youth Under 18 and 19 squads this season.

The Young Firm were straight on the attack from the off and took play into the Newport 22 where a quick penalty take by centre Jarrad Cushion was finished off by flanker Owen Jenkins, who showed good strength to break through one tackler and score wide out to give Mount a 5-0 lead after only 3 minutes play.

From the restart, the Mount forwards took play up to halfway with several drives. A chip over the top of the Newport defence by scrum half and captain Morgan Cartwright was quickly followed up by centre Jarrad Cushion and the Mount wing, but close though they came, they just couldn’t hold on to the ball.

After 9 minutes, Newport’s first attack into the Mount 22 resulted in a 15 metre penalty which was kicked to reduce the Young Firm’s lead to 5-3.

The Newport scrum and lineout was on top throughout the game and this advantage kept them in it. Another sequence of penalties to Newport saw them take the lead in the 16th minute with another 15 metre penalty.

Mount hit back immediately through a superb midfield break by outside half Ethan Conway, who split the Newport defence wide open, but a lack of support when he got to 10 metres out saw Newport survive.

Newport went 11-5 up in the 21st minute when a chip to the corner was caught by the Newport wing. He rounded his opposite number and showed impressive pace to sprint down to halfway, kick over the last Mount defender and win the race for the touchdown.

The Young Firm were unphased and took play up to the Newport line where they were forced out at the flag. The two aspects of the game where Mount struggled – the lineout and scrum – allowed Newport to clear on quite a few occasions.

Just before half time the Young Firm applied heavy pressure in the Newport 22 right across the field, but they were held out. Although being awarded a penalty, the kick to the corner for a lineout was probably the wrong option and once again, it was lost.

Mount got right back into the game after just 3 minutes of the second half when a kick into the Newport 22 was quickly followed up and when the ball went loose, flanker Ewan Rees was set free and raced over from 20 metres out to score an unconverted which reduced Newport’s lead to 11-10.

After an attack by Newport took play to 5 metres out, the Mount forwards, who to a man competed for everything all game, won an important penalty and the ball was cleared. An offside gave Newport a penalty just outside the Mount 22 which they kicked to the corner, where a catch and drive saw a forward peel off and get the touchdown to make it 16-10 to Newport after 14 minutes of the second half.

Yet more good work by the Mount forwards at a ruck resulted in a penalty award to the Young Firm. Scrum half Morgan Cartwright took it quickly and after a couple of rucks, the ball was moved wide to centre Jarrad Cushion and he run in from 15 metres out for his first try of the match, and his fourth in the two play-off games. Mount were just a point behind at 16-15 down and the game was “up for grabs”.

From the restart, a kick upfield by scrum half Cartwright had Newport in trouble. Mount regained the ball and took play into the Newport 22 where they were awarded a penalty midway out, but the kick went wide.

The Young Firm’s fitness and will-to-win was evident as they upped the pace in the last quarter and competed for everything. A scrum on the Newport 10 metre line saw scrum half Cartwright and outside half Conway put centre Cushion away for him to take play to a metre or so out before he was stopped.

Frustratingly, comments by Mount to the referee gave Newport cheap penalties which allowed them to clear downfield and also attempt a 40 metre penalty which went wide. Tremendous defence by Mount from Newport pressure in the Young Firm’s 22 saw a penalty award and the ball cleared.

With a couple of minutes to go, and the Young Firm’s hopes of getting to the final in the balance, a take at the back of a lineout on the Newport 10 metre line and a run up to the 22, saw scrum half Cartwright feed the athletic, hard-working No.8 Ryan Jenkins, who took the ball at pace and burst through the Newport defence to beat a couple of defenders and score a great try to scenes of wild jubilation, which put Mount 20-16 up. The conversion in front of the posts made it 22-16, but there was still a minute left.

A fine take from the restart and protection of the ball by the Mount forwards, and then a high kick by Cartwright, saw the Mount right wing the first to the ball where he caught it superbly and run on to take up to halfway where the Mount forwards were right up behind him to secure the ball. A scrum was called and after scrum half and captain Morgan Cartwright chipped the ball into touch, the referee blew for time, which gave the Young Firm a famous victory and a place in the Champion of Champions final.

No doubt a hard game awaits in the final against Crymych, the Scarlets champions, or Nant Conwy, the North Wales champions, but what a chance the Young Firm has to be called “the best Youth team in Wales.” It doesn’t happen very often in a playing career boys, take that chance with both hands and go for it!

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