Neath 22 Ebbw Vale 15
While their eighth win of the season moves the side to within four points of top of the table Cardiff, the Neath youngsters had to dig deep into their resolve to overcome a competitive visiting outfit. The victory was only secured at full time.
After a bright start by the Gnoll youngsters and a flowing move which had taken play close to the visitors line, Wales U'21s prop Adam Jones was on hand to finish off a well rehearsed line-out move. Fly half Aled Davies added the conversion.
Ebbw Vale fly half Richard Jenkins slotted over a penalty midway through the first half and then duly added a conversion after the Visiting centre Matthew Griffiths showed excellent skill to control a charge down and secure an opening try.
Neath full back Peter Thomas proved strong in defense and also demonstrated excellent vision to take play close to the visitors line with a measured kick but the Gwent side were equally organised in defense to retain their 10pts to 7 interval lead.
The scores were levelled by a Davies penalty but despite the urgency shown by scrum half Gareth James, the Gnoll side lacked the creativity to unlock the visitors defense. The Neath scrum began to dominate and following a strike against the head, referee Matthew Aplin (Bryncoch) awarded a penalty try.
Davies once again found the target to convert but uncharacteristically for Neath, they failed to build upon their lead and it was the visitors who set up a tense finale when centre Griffiths once again made the most of a sloppy Neath defense to claim his brace of tries. However Jenkins' conversion attempt went wide of the upright which if successful would have levelled the scores.
Neath built up a period of intense pressure and on the final whistle centre Craig Smith crashed through to secure the vital win. Davies failed with the conversion but the win followed up the 25pts to 16 win at Eugene Cross Park earlier in the season and completed a hat trick of home wins in as many weeks.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.