Coleg y Cymoedd were unable to secure a third consecutive WRU School and Colleges League title, after a heartbreaking climax to their tense final against Coleg Gwent at Sardis Road.
Lee Davies’ side went into the clash after securing top spot in the table following an undefeated league campaign, where they won 11 and drew one match in the build-up to the final.
It was a cagey opening 15 minutes in Pontypridd, but Coleg y Cymoedd finally broke the deadline through a Tyler Morris penalty.
Coleg Gwent looked for an immediate reply as they piled on the pressure deep into the Cymoedd’s 22, but centre Ryan Wilkins provided a crucial turned over to clear the danger.
Gwent outside half, Joe Westwood, struck back with a penalty of his own to bring the scores level after half an hour of action.
On the stroke of half time, Cymoedd crossed for the game’s opening try. Despite the clock turning red, both sides opted to keep the ball in-play as they looked to head into the break with an advantage.
Westwood’s attempted up-and-under came under extreme pressure from Alex Mann, and the ball fell for Cavan Davies inside his own half.
The wing stepped past his opposite number and showed his turn of pace to beat the challenges of Morgan Lloyd and Che Hope and finish impressively in the corner.
Cymoedd had a five point lead at the interval, and continued to put pressure on their opposition in the second half, but were unable to find a breakthrough.
The missed opportunities proved crucial as Matthew Jones’ side drew level once again. A close range driving line-out proved too much for the stubborn Cymoedd defence, with Joe Beard dotting down from the base of the rampant maul.
With five minutes remaining, a late tackle on Westwood allowed the outside half to put his side in front for the first time with a long range penalty.
The number 10 extended his side’s lead with a sweetly-struck drop goal, but Cymoedd had one final opportunity to claim victory. They tested the Gwent defence on their try-line with some strong carries, as they desperately attempted to defend their title, but the Newport-based outfit managed to hold the ball up to secure the win.
Coleg y Cymoedd’s head coach, Davies, applauded match-winner Westwood and believes his players will benefit from the exposure and experience they’ve gained from the league campaign this season.
“There’s a 17-year-old kid who has just kicked a penalty from the 40 meter line and a drop goal from 35. That’s a classy decision there.
“That’s what’s the competition is about. It’s about exposing these boys to top-level performance.
“The game was very physical, very attritional and I’m proud of my boys for fighting back in the way they did at the end.
“I’m sure they’ll learn from that and take something from that game.
“Something we’ve spoken about all season is our accuracy in the final third. There were four or five times in that first half where we were down there but didn’t finish it off.
“It’s come to bite us on the bum and haunt us a little bit but it’s a big process.
“The boys are gutted and are hurting at the moment, but they’ll come back. They’re quality players and you’ll see a lot of those boys kick on and do some special things.
“The programme, the league and the competition is fantastic. Getting that experience and exposure is just fantastic.”