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Cardiff U18 crowned champions following convincing win over Ospreys

Pathway | 6th February 2023

Cardiff U18 were crowned champions of the Women’s U18s Regional tournament following a convincing win over Ospreys on Sunday.

The young Blue and Blacks have maintained a 100 per cent record this season, and the victory at The Gnoll ensured they are out of touching distance ahead of the final round of action, which will take place at Ystrad Mynach in a fortnight.

Having finished top of the pile before the Championship was cut prematurely short last season, it will be a cause of celebrations for Darren Bool’s side, who have taken 14 points from a possible 15 so far in 2023.

Playing in the opening match of the day in Neath, Cardiff took the lead within three minutes. Sharp hands along the backline opened the space for Nia Fajeyisan, and the centre’s pace took her away from Lola Mitchell’s initial challenge. 

The Plasmawr pupil then used her power to bowl over full back Lily Anne Roberts to finish in the corner for a well-taken score.

It was Fajeyisan’s midfield partner, Imogen Boon, who set up the opportunity for Cardiff to double their lead.

A half break from the impressive hooker, Shanelle Williams, gave Cardiff front-foot ball. As the visitors worked their way into the Ospreys half, the inside centre received the ball on the edge of the opposition’s 22, but cut back inside and shrugging off a number of Ospreys defenders before finally being stopped just short of the line. 

However, with the hosts on the back foot and scrambling in defence, Ella Fry was on hand to snipe over from close range.

A Hanna Marshall penalty ensured Ospreys were on the board before the interval and were within a converted score.

Cardiff’s stubborn defence resisted the waves of Ospreys attacks after the break, as the hosts looked to find a way back into the encounter, but also displayed the attacking finesse that has been prominent to their successful campaign to date.

Another Williams break, this time from her own 22, almost led to the Blue and Blacks’ third score. The hooker - who remains eligible for under 16 rugby - bulldozed past a couple of would-be tacklers before offloading to Brooke Bevan. 

The playmaker produced an equally skilful pass of her own to keep the attack alive, but wing Seren Thomas eventually halted by Molly Morris, after skipping past the challenge of Layla Kerr. 

However, the attack was enough to pin Ospreys deep in their own 22, as the hosts struggled to find a clean exit, and the effort would eventually lead to the score that put the result beyond doubt. 

After coming away empty handed from a couple of attacking efforts, the defensive line was finally breached as Crystal James released front row partner Williams, who charged over for a well earned score - her third in three appearances.

Cardiff’s 14 point mean they are beyond the reach of their rivals heading into the final weekend of action, where they will face Scarlets at Ystrad Mynach.

Cardiff: Rachel Thomas-Evans; Sophia Foscolo, Nia Fajeyisan, Sophie Southgate, Madison Isgrove; Brooke Bevan, Seren Lockwood; Crystal James, Shanelle Williams, Niamh Padmore, Tilly Vucaj, Fern Cumine, Katie Sims (capt.), Riley Stanger, Manon Blackford

Replacements: Nia Powell, Elin Berry, Izabel Wing, Ella Fry, Meg Morris, Raylee Caviell, Rhianna Bryant, Freya Inkpen

Round 1 (Cardiff Arms Park) - Sunday, 8 January

Cardiff 20 v Dragons 0 (11.15am)

RGC 29 v Ospreys 8 (12.45pm)

Round 2 (Llandovery) - Sunday, 15 January

Scarlets 22 v 18 Ospreys (12pm)

RGC 5 v 5 Dragons (2.30pm)

Round 3 (Parc Eirias) - Sunday, 29 January

Scarlets 7 v 39 Dragons (1pm)

RGC 22 v 24 Cardiff (3pm)

Round 4 (The Gnoll, Neath) - Sunday, 5 February

Ospreys 3 v 15 Cardiff (11am)

RGC 5 v 5 Scarlets (3pm)

Round 5 (Ystrad Mynach) - Sunday, 19 February

Cardiff v Scarlets (1pm)

Dragons v Ospreys (4pm)