Dragons Under-18s crowned regional champions


Dragons Academy Under-18s were crowned RAG Championship winners after the most dramatic of finishes against Cardiff Rugby at Ystrad Mynach.

In a topsy-turvy encounter, Cardiff Rugby looked set to take the title as they led by ten points going into the final ten minutes.

But a late twist saw a try from hooker Aneurin Jenkins set up a grandstand finale before a penalty try with just seconds remaining swung a pulsating clash.

A first half try from Connor Lewis could not stop Cardiff taking a 15-10 lead to the sheds before Will Rees sparked fresh hope with a long-range score in the second period.

But the unbeaten future Dragons – who had swept past Ospreys, RGC and Scarlets in impressive fashion scoring an accumulative 130 points and conceding just 17 before the final clash – showed huge heart and belief to take it in the final moments.

Dragons made three changes for the toughest test of the season with hooker Freddy Harding, lock Owain Osmond and fly half Sam Berry returning.

In testing wet and blustery conditions – that had seen the game moved from Cardiff due to adverse weather conditions in the capital – both teams looked to control territory in the opening exchanges.

A period of pressure saw Dragons force the penalty and Berry slotted the early kick for a 3-0 lead after seven minutes.

Cardiff hit back immediately as they drove a lineout over for the opening try of the night, courtesy of Number Eight Lucas de la Rua. Converted by Harri Wilde.

Dragons slowly forced position, after a succession of penalties saw Cardiff marched back, and the home side went to the corner when three points was assured.

The decision was justified as the resulting maul saw Lewis crash over before Sam Berry slotted a touchline conversion.

The lead, though, lasted less than two minutes as Cardiff struck back with a maul of their own, captain Harry Beddall the man to dot down for a 12-10 lead.

Cardiff enjoyed their best spell before the break, but solid defensive work kept them at bay.

And scrum half Zak Roberts almost had an opportunistic score as he hacked clear, after a lightening break from Will Rees, but the ball ran awkwardly away from him at the last moment.

A penalty from Wilde extended the Cardiff lead to 15-10 before the break and then the young fly half added a third visiting try three minutes after the restart.

The comeback started on 49 minutes as Rees picked up a stray pass and sped over from his own half. Jack Woods added the extras from the touch line to home roars from the crowd.

Cardiff grabbed a fourth - hooker Gavin Parry the man to score.

But Dragons were not to be denied as Jenkins was driven over before the most dramatic of final minutes saw another driving lineout taken illegally down and the penalty try awarded.

Dragons U18s: Huw Anderson, Will Rees, Cam Davies, Harri Ackerman (c), Ioan Duggan, Sam Berry, Zak Roberts; Morgan Williams, Freddy Harding, Conall Couch, Owain Osmond, Nick Thomas, Will Gregory, Connor Lewis, Charlie Harkins.

Replacements: Aneurin Jenkins, Taran Moa, Alex Uwimana, Gethyn Cannon, Kobi Rees, Tom Horan, Jack Woods, Oli Woodman

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