2000 spectators had travelled to the Brewery Field to watch both sides in a fiercely contested final in which Neath held their nerve to win 18pts to 15pts. The Gnoll youngsters followed in the footsteps of their 1970's senior side to lay claim as the first ever winners of a newly introduced cup!
It was little more than the Welsh All Blacks deserved. Gaining momentum from the travelling supporters, the Neath front row of props Paul James, Adam Jones and hooker Adam Matthews once again proved the cornerstone of the Gnoll sides success while man-of-the-match Steven Peters excelled in the back row alongside Simon Peters and Daniel Evans in both defense and attack.
Neath got off to a good start with fly half Dylan Pugh landing an early penalty but Cardiff soon levelled with a penalty from FIRA fly half Nick Macleod. As the frantic opening exchanges continued the Neath forwards set up a fine attacking position and flanker Peters was on hand to crash over wide out for an unconverted try.
Almost immediately and with their first purposeful attack, Macleod fed full back Chris Anderson to score at the posts and with Macleod adding the conversion Cardiff took the lead.
Neath came back with lock Gavin Evans securing position but it was from a turn-over that fly half Pugh sliced through the Cardiff defense and his offload enabled centre Mike Jones to sweep Neath back into the ascendancy as he scored his sides second try. Pugh added the conversion from near the posts and Neath deservedly lead by 15pts to 10 at the interval.
Cardiff had the better start of the two sides in the second half and after a period of sustained pressure left wing Elgan Jones scored in the corner. Crucially Macleod missed the conversion and a penalty moments later as the sides remained level.
Both sides had their chances throughout the second half. Finally after an evenly contested half a period of pressure from the Neath forwards presented Pugh with a 35 metre penalty. The Neath fly half calmly landed his kick to complete his brace and restore his sides lead.
In a frantic final effort Cardiff failed to breach the well organised Neath defense as the Gnoll youngsters held onto victory for skipper Adam Matthews to lift the Wales U'21s Cup and secure ample revenge for two league defeats at the hands of the Arms Park youngsters.
Neath U'21s: P.Thomas (repl A.Davies), R.Carter, M.Jones, P.Smiriglia (repl J.Leyshon), A.Jones, D.Pugh, R.Williams (repl G.James), P.James, A.Matthews (capt), A.Jones, G.Evans, L.Bassett (repl C.Jones), S.Peters, D.Evans, S.Phillips
Cardiff U'21s: C.Anderson, E.Jones, O.Ashman, D.Ryan (repl D.Tame), G.Williams, N.Macleod, C.Miller (capt), J.Yapp, K.Jarma, D.Evans (repl D.Fenton), L.Tait, C.Stamatakis, J.Malpas, M.Leach, M.Leaman
Ref: Paul Adams (Ebbw Vale)
Score summary: Neath - Tries: S.Peters, M.Jones; Con: D Pugh; Pens: Pugh (2)
Cardiff - Tries: C.Anderson, E.Jones; Con: N.Macleod; Pen: Macleod
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Fresh from claiming the Bowl honours in Tokyo last Sunday, the Wales Sevens squad have settled into their routine as they prepare for this weekend's Hong Kong tournament where Iolo Evans is aiming high, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers.
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