Young Otters only just miss out in Cardiff Met clash

Narberth Youth

WRU Youth Cup quarter final:


Cardiff Met 20 Narberth 17


An epic cup clash between the youth sides of Cardiff Met and Narberth Youth went the way of the students at Cyncoed yesterday in a game which truly defied Storm Dennis.

The two sides produced a contest of real quality and intensity, and one which yielded five tries, a red card, and a nail biting finale.

Playing into the elements The Young Otters led 7-0 early on through Josh Hamer’s try but the home side responded through a score from Will Perry and the boot of Morgan Johns to be 13-7 up half time.

Narberth then lost Sam Davies to a red card in the second half and when Ethan Maltby went over for a converted try for The Met, the contest appeared over.

But the visitors stormed back, literally, as Tom Clarke and Leon Whalley went over for five pointers but at 20-17, they couldn’t get the late score they needed to seal what would have been a dramatic comeback win.

The eye of the storm:

The morning rugby news had been dominated by fixtures falling foul of Storm Dennis, but the 4g surface at Cyncoed ensured this was one of the few youth or senior games to go ahead. And the weather didn’t deter a large contingent travelling up from Pembrokeshire as the game kicked off amidst a charged atmosphere.

Despite playing into the swirling winds and rain Narberth started with real intent, and a series of pick and drives by the pack culminated in flanker Hamer forcing his way over from close range. No 10 Harri Harries converted.

The score was soon wiped out though when his opposite number Johns kicked upfield and the bounce of the ball fell kindly to centre Will Perry who pounced to score. Johns levelled matters with the extras – and then minutes later landed a 30 metre penalty to put his side in front.

Inevitably, Narberth were struggling to get out of their own territory with the conditions making it difficult for half backs Harries and Jordan James to clear upfield with the boot, but they did defend stoutly with prop Jac Norcross and then hooker Clarke both winning penalties with jackals near their own line.

But just before the break the pressure told as outstanding Met flanker Joe Locke’s strong surge set up the chance for Johns to land another three points from 22 metres.

From the final play of the half Narberth had a chance to hit back though as a break from centre Ryan Scourfield prompted an attack and this time it was The Met who infringed, but against the wind Harris was unable to keep his close range penalty attempt on target.

Harri Harries lines up a kick at goal for The Otters

Otters see red:

Narberth would still have gone into half time feeling more than in the contest with the six point deficit a slender one given the weather would soon be favouring them. But they were derailed in the first few minutes of the second period.

Another surge from Locke was halted by a tip tackle from Narberth No 8 Davies, and one referee Damien Osbourne deemed serious enough to dish out a straight red card.

The Met then turned the screw and a strong run from full back Charlie Scott was ended by a try saving tackle by Narberth prop Kaleb Higgon, one of the game’s stand out performers.

Soon after though, The Met capitalised when flanker Maltby picked up and dived over from close range and when Harries converted to make it 20-7, The Otters seemingly had a mountain to climb.

Frenetic finale:

They were also struggling to secure their own lineout ball but when Maltby was then yellow carded, making it 14 v 14 again for 10 minutes, Narberth managed to go up a gear.

The introduction of replacement Ieuan Badham made a difference in midfield and it was his strong carry into the Met 22 which set up pressure from which Harvey Jones was stopped inches short, but from the ruck that followed it was Clarke who buried over.

Harries hit the post with the wide angled conversion but then was involved as his side struck again, spreading play wide to Scourfield who in turn put winger Leon Whalley away to finish well in the corner.

Again it went unconverted but at 20-17, The Otters needed just a penalty from the final few minutes for a draw which would have out them through as the away side.

Despite a frenzied finish though, they couldn’t get the field position they needed and when The Met won turnover ball on halfway a pulsating clash was over.

Pride in defeat:

It was an agonising defeat for the Narberth players and coaches Randal Evans and Shane Higgon but the pair were full of praise for their side afterwards: “Everything the boys had thrown at them today they responded to,” said Evans.

“They travelled up to Cardiff in this weather, played on a 4g surface for the first time, and went down to 14 men. But we have nothing but pride in the way they performed.

“Today showed us how much they’ve come on.”

Mixed emotions:

There is much for Narberth Youth to be positive about. The Scarlets West champions came to a difficult venue to play a high quality side, and despite setbacks stood toe to toe with them.

But pride will be laced with disappointment. The minutes before and after half time proved pivotal and in the final quarter they had enough territory to haul back the deficit. The fact they came so close to doing so showed real character - but to come within a whisker of the semi-final would have been hard to take.

And yet, both they and Cardiff Met played their part in a game which showcased the best of youth rugby in Wales, and both deserve credit for doing so.

Cardiff Met: Charlie Scott, Iwan Sheppard, Will Perry, Daf Tieuti, Corey Talor, Morgan Johns, Ioan Williams, Deio Terfel, James McCarthy, Alfie Gibson, Ben Walker, Garin Standing, Joe Locke, Ethan Maltby, Tom Walsh (capt). Replacements: Harrison Croker, Iestyn Davies, Jon Kelly, Adam Young, Lewis Ryan, Harrison Lyon, Ethan Preddy.

Narberth: Ifan Rees, Leon Whalley, Ryan Scourfield, Harvey Jones, Nathan Foster, Harri Harries, Jordan James, Jac Norcross, Tom Clarke, Kaleb Higgon, Dafydd Gibby, Aled Davies, Owain Hughes, Josh Hamer, Sam Davies. Replacements: Rhodri Gerrard, Ieuan Barnes, Harri Rees, Dylan Walsh, Morgan Chell, Ieuan Badham, Ioan Evans, Osian Phillips.

Referee: Damien Osbourne.

Young Otters secure possession