Young Otters retain Griffiths Cup

2019 Griffiths Cup winners Narberth

Griffiths Cup Final:


Narberth 18s 26 - Pembroke 18s 14

They were given a battle, but pre-final favourites Narberth Under 18s were crowned Griffiths Cup champions last night after finishing strongly against Pembroke at the Neyland Athletic Ground.

Trailing 14-7 midway through the second half, the Young Otters got into their stride in the closing stages with three unanswered tries to retain the trophy. And for many of the players involved, it made some amends for an agonising Youth Cup final loss to Crymych earlier this month.

Scarlets surge early on

But it was the Young Scarlets who started on the front foot with a series of drives from the pack, and they made their intentions clear by turning down a kickable penalty in front of the posts.

Instead scrum half Jared Sherratt fed his pack and Leon Stewart drove close to the line before hooker Shane Gwyther duly picked up and ploughed over. Sherratt landed the wide angled conversion.

The pressure continued and a clever chip kick from No 10 Kyran Gray forced Narberth full back Morgan Chell into grounding the ball back over his own line – but from the scrum five that followed No 8 Theo Davies was dragged down just short and a turnover ensued.

Otters bounce back through Badham

Then shortly before the break, Narberth hit back following a breathless period of play.

It started with a defensive scrum for the Otters but as centre Ieuan Badham tried to break out of his own 22, he was stripped by opposite number James Jones before the Scarlets wasted their overlap as the final pass to winger Morgan Owens went to deck.

From the loose ball, Narberth broke upfield and then worked a penalty which No 10 Lewis Hough kicked to the corner. Pembroke survived that but after a big surge from outstanding second row Griff Evans sucked in several defenders, it was Badham who utilised the space out wide to go over for a try that Hough converted.

Brunton props up Pembroke

It was Narberth who threatened first in the second half and skipper Owain Hughes was prominent as he twice made breaks into the 22, but the Scarlets survived and soon they were back in front.

A slick counter-attack saw winger Joe Watkins speed down the left and he chipped ahead only to be taken out by Badham – leaving referee Charlie Watts with no choice but to show a yellow card.

It didn’t take long for the extra man to pay dividends and again Pembroke’s try came from a series of forward drives, with prop Liam Brunton eventually forcing his way over. Again Sherratt added the extras to make it 14-7.

Otters turn the tide late on

The final quarter belonged to Narberth though, and they initially went close when hooker Tom Clarke was held up over the line.

Another charge from flanker Hughes was seemingly wasted when the ball was spilled forward and Evan Sheldon booted clear, but Chell gathered and immediately attacked and it was prop Stephen Pilot who then gave the scoring pass to Ifan Rees – the winger finishing clinically from 25 metres.

Hough missed the conversion but then had a big hand in his side’s third try, throwing out a long miss pass to Evans who in turn put Leon Whalley on a run to the line – and he too finished powerfully in the corner.

Hough added the difficult extras to put his side 19-14 ahead and then the win was sealed late on as Narberth again revelled in the space against a tiring defence, the No 10 sending out another miss-pass  before Rees linked with centre Ryan Scourfield and he crashed over.

Again Hough converted, and soon after skipper Hughes was receiving the silverware from Eleanor Griffiths, the daughter of Mike Griffiths, and the Young Otters were celebrating a successful end to a long season.

Man of the match: Griff Evans.

For a second row, the youngster doesn’t half cover some ground.

He carried hard throughout and also showed great composure when setting up Leon Whalley for a crucial try.

Did leave the field at one point in the second half though after seemingly swallowing something unpleasant, his team mates won’t let him forget that for a while!

James Merriman (Narberth coach):

“They made it difficult for us early on. Their line speed was good, they worked hard at the breakdown and seemed to come out wanting it more than us.

“But then second half we got our heads together and started playing phases. Eventually we broke them down.”

Martin Alderman (Pembroke coach):

“We’re proud of our boys they played their guts out.

“In the end tiredness took its toll though.”

Narberth: Morgan Chell, Leon Whalley, Ryan Scourfield, Ieuan Badham, Ifan Rees, Lewis Hough, Dylan Walsh, Kaleb Higgon, Tom Clarke, Stephen Pilot, Harry Rees, Griff Evans, Daf Gibby, Owain Hughes (capt), Sam Davies. Replacements: Nathan Foster, Jac Norcross, Jordan James, Rhys Meredith-Barrett, Rhys Davies, Harri Harries, Rhys Kemble.

Coaches: James Merriman, Andy Jeremiah, Shane Higgon. Team manager: Bill Ridge.

Pembroke: Harry Turner, Joe Watkins, Aaron O’Neill, James Jones (capt), Morgan Owens, Kyran Gray, Jared Sherratt, Evan Phillips, Shane Gwyther, Liam Brunton, Josh Axon, Jonathan Wood, Evan Sheldon, Leon Stewart, Theo Davies. Replacements: Eljay Taylor, Kieran Cookson, Thomas Cubbit, Lewys Reynolds, John Smith.

Coaches: Nev Appleby, Richard Gibby, Martin Alderman. Team manager: David Gwyther.

Referee: Charlie Watts.

Assistants: Martyn Rudd and David Byrne.

Griffiths Cup match officials