The Youth were resplendent in odd socks to show their support for World Down Syndrome Awareness Day, which was Tuesday 21st March. They were up against a Risca Youth team who play in the Dragons Youth 1st League, 3 divisions above Newbridge and who had beaten them by 45 points in a pre-season match. With every Newbridge player being a 1st year youth player and Risca only containing 2nd and 3rd year youth players, on the face of it, the task looked a tall order for the much smaller Newbridge boys. But what a difference 7 months can make.
From the first kick off it was clear that size and age were not going to be a problem to Newbridge. The high hanging kick from Iwan Burgwin gave Blindside Jack Littlejohns the opportunity to time a massive hit superbly causing the Risca lad to fumble before Jack won the ball back on the floor and was joined instantly by the speedy Newbridge pack. Cole Jones span the ball to Burgwin whose brilliant backs move ripped open the defence and sent Full back Luke Shore racing away. With only the last defender to beat Shore’s wonderful dummy to Tom Deinko took Shore over the line and he had the nowse to race across under the posts to make the kick a formality for Burgwin.
Some indiscretions were picked up and that saw Risca make their way to the corner with the obviously driving lineout to follow. Preseason Risca had great success with this tactic but that wasn’t going to be the case today. Their big lumbering forwards were driven back and as they tried time after time to bulk their way over they were smashed backwards and cut down until finally Garin Price won the relieving penalty. Without specialist second rows, Number Eight Price and Openside Euan Lewis cleaned up at the lineouts and then there were the scrums. The Dragons under 18s front row of Nathan Evans, Zach Hewlett and Taylor Hansen with stand in Locks George Price and Morgan Thomas demolished their taller and bigger opposition in every single scrum during the game. This told on the older, heavier Risca lads and they visibly tired quickly.
Burgwin kicked a monster penalty mid-way through the first half and at the break it was 10-0 to Newbridge. Risca were shell shocked by the change in fortune of their opposition. It was the classy Newbridge backs that were running the show now. Following an injury to Jones, replacement Zach Morgan fired the ball away from set piece, ruck and maul to the backline that always looked dangerous in attack and not troubled throughout in defence with Tyler Lewis and Deinko snuffing out the minor attacks that came their way.
Early in the second half Risca’s Outside Half converted a penalty but from the kick off the slick handling of Burgwin, Centres Ethan Chess and Ioan Lloyd once again set Shore, now on the wing, flying again. With just one remaining defender to beat this time Shore threw a sublime pass inside, seemingly without looking, but it was straight into the hands of supporting Full Back Joel Witcombe to score.
The backs were now playing with such confidence they tried to run the ball from close to their own line only to knock on and Risca capitalised by putting the ball to their winger. The wing was easily covered by Shore until a block a Dallas Cowboy wide receiver would have been proud of allowed the wing to go over unchallenged. The referee to everyone’s surprise awarded a try.
With the final whistle Newbridge had turned a 45-0 pre-season loss around to a comfortable 15-8 win.
The Youth would like to wish their team mate William Griffiths good luck for Wales U18s against England U18s tomorrow at Ebbw Vale RFC and congratulate him on his try against France in Lyon last week.
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