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.
The British & Irish Cup kicks off this weekend with the four Regional Premiership Select XVs flying the flag for Wales. Welsh
Sat 14 Nov: Blues Premiership Select v Nottingham (2.30) & Connacht Eagles v Dragons (2.30)
Sun 15 Nov: Yorkshire Carnegie v Ospreys Premiership Select (1.30) & Scarlets v Bedford Blues (3.00)
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia
Twelve young people have been selected to follow a one year WRU Coach Core apprenticeship programme. Coach Core was set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of the Olympics legacy in 2012 and the Duke of Cambridge was on hand to meet the apprentices on their first day in the job. The programme has been funded by the Hunter Foundation.