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Cardiff Blues under-18 top the table after emphatic win over Scarlets

Age Grade & Academy | 22nd January 2020

Cardiff Blues under-18 returned to WRU Regional Age Grade Championship action with an emphatic victory to secure maximum points against Scarlets on Tuesday.

Wales’ Capital Region dominated proceedings in Llanelli, as they racked up 27 unanswered points and a bonus point before the hosts touched down for their only score of the evening.

But the scoring continued for the young Cardiff Blues side, as they added a further three tries to kick-start their campaign in impressive fashion.

There is a short turnaround for the youngsters, who travel up the A470 on Sunday to take on RGC before welcoming Dragons to Cardiff Arms Park next Wednesday.

Craig Everett and Aled James’ side travelled west to Parc y Scarlets following two wins and a defeat in the first block of fixtures earlier this season. The hosts, on the other hand, had maintained a 100 per cent record in the Championship.

15 of Cardiff Blues’ matchday squad featured for Coleg y Cymoedd in the WRU Schools and Colleges League final a week earlier, and knew a win in Llanelli would take them to the top of the table.

It was a bitterly cold evening at Parc y Scarlets, and the visitors applied pressure from the off as they set-up camp in the Scarlets 22. 

Full back, Oliver James, made a stunning break in midfield, however, as they looked to go wide, Ryan Wilkins couldn’t keep hold of possession and Scarlets managed to clear their lines.

Despite some positive plays from both sides, the crowd in Llanelli had to wait 15 minutes until the opening the score. 

A first phase play from a scrum allowed Theo Cabango to burst down the left wing, but he was taken down inside the Scarlets 22 by opposite number, Corum Nott. Moments later, the hosts had edged offside, allowing Ben Burnell to slot a simple penalty and open the scoring.

The penalty swung momentum into the visitors’ favour, and they soon struck for the opening try of the evening.

A strong carry from skipper Evan Lloyd gave them front-foot ball, and the ball was worked wide to wing Thomas, who was brought down just short of the try line. However, the Blues’ attack maintained their composure to go through the phases, and they were rewarded as Ellis Fackrell crashed over from close range.

Everett and James’ side struck for a quick-fire second almost immediately. Alex Wainwright’s kick was charged down by Rhys Anstey, who picked up the loose ball and offloaded to Wilkins.

He found support from Ethan Fackrell who spotted space in the backfield and kicked ahead. Thomas pinned his ears back to win the footrace and touch down for his first try of the evening.

After half an hour of action, Cardiff Blues found themselves with a line-out deep in the Scarlets’ 22, after the hosts were penalised for side-entry into a maul.

Another strong resulting drive sucked in the Scarlets defenders, creating space for number nine, Harvey Nash, to cross unopposed in the corner for his side’s third try.

Wales’ Capital Region went into the break with a 20-point lead, but they secured the bonus point within four minutes of the restart.

Once again there were some strong carries to set up the opportunity, before Thomas slipped past the Scarlets defence to cross for his second score of the evening.

Man of the match Burnell slotted the conversion, before Scarlets finally got the scoreboard ticking as Morgan Macrae dotted down for a consolation score.

However, the scoring soon continued for the Blues, as Efan Daniel’s offload released academy lock Rhys Anstey to score. Replacement outside half Tyler Morris added the extras.

The pack once again showed their dominance as a rampant driving line-out saw Corben Evans dot down, and Morris’ second conversion saw Cardiff Blues pass the 40-point mark.

With two minutes remaining, the visitors added their seventh try of the evening, as a weighted chip from Morris paved the way for Gwilym Evans to touch down and cap off the victory.

Cardiff Blues under-18: Oliver James; Jake Thomas, McCauley Rowley, Ryan Wilkins, Theo Cabango; Ben Burnell, Harvey Nash; Ellis Fackrell, Efan Daniel, Nathan Evans, Cai James, Rhys Anstey, Alex Mann, Ethan Fackrell, Evan Lloyd (capt.)

Replacements: Harrison Chapman, Corben Evans, Rhys Barratt, Rhys Dauncey, Gwilym Evans, Will O’Connor, Tyler Morris, Cameron Winnett

Scarlets under-18: Alex Wainwright; Corum Nott, Aled Davies, Eddie James, Dylan Richards; Josh Phillips, Harry Williams; Sam O’Connor, Morgan Macrae (capt), Dylan Smith, Connor McMenamin, Caleb Salmon, Lewis Clayton, Caine Rees-Jones, Leon Samuel

Replacements: Nikki Frampton, Morgan Thomas, Tom Pritchard, Aaron Howells, Evan Thomas, Luke Davies, Alex Carson, Josh Evans