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RGC U18 22 Cardiff U18 24

Women | 30th January 2023

In a thrilling finale at Parc Eirias on Sunday, Cardiff U18 made it two from two in the Regional Championship.

The young Blue and Blacks travelled north for their second clash of the campaign, having secured a bonus point win over Dragons at the Arms Park on the opening weekend.

With Dragons and Scarlets facing off in the first game of the day, Cardiff were up against hosts RGC, who had secured a win and a draw in their opening two encounters.

Cardiff were dealt an early disappointment as experienced playmaker Rachel Thomas-Evans - who represented Wales U18 last season - departed through injury.

It was the hosts that had the upper hand in the opening minutes at Colwyn Bay, with centre Hanna Tudor putting Leah Stewart and Saran Jones in space, but neither back three players being able to take the opportunity thanks to some commendable defensive efforts from the visitors.

Lively scrum half Seren Lockwood was key to finding front foot ball for Cardiff, maintaining tempo at the breakdown while also posing a threat on the fringes.

The visitors soon found themselves with an attacking opportunity of their own. Brooke Bevan’s flat pass sent Sophie Southgate charging through, but the centre was held up over line.

However, RGC were unable to clear their lines from the resulting goal-line drop-out, and Cardiff took full advantage. Strong carries from the likes of Manon Blackford, Nia Fajeyisan and captain Katie Sims put the hosts on the back-foot and earned a penalty at the breakdown. 

Sharp thinking from Niamh Padmore spotted the opportunity for a quick tap, and the tighthead prop wrestled over for the game’s opening score.

Bevan added the extras, but RGC came up with a quick response by prop Elan Jones, bringing the scores level once more.

Blackford was producing a talismanic performance in the number eight jersey, impressing with powerful carries, but it was her work at the breakdown that led to Cardiff’s second try of the afternoon.

After Shanelle Williams charged through the RGC defence, drawing a number of defenders into the contact area, the call was made to go wide to Sophia Foscolo. A moment of magic saw the wing palming off two challenges and showing an impressive turn of pace to run in from halfway.

With half time approaching, RGC centre Tudor forced her way over in the corner to send the teams into the break all level.

The relentless nature of the game continued into the second 35 minutes, with Cardiff almost striking an early blow as Lockwood exploited space in the midfield to gallop towards the try-line. The scrum half was halted just short of the line as RGC survived the latest attack from the Blue and Blacks.

However, Lockwood wasn’t to be denied for a second time. A sensational break from a scrum in Cardiff’s half saw the scrum half slicing through the RGC midfield with a brilliantly sold dummy, before beating a further two challenges to give Cardiff the lead once more.

The ding-dong battle continued and RGC refused to be beaten as they brought the scores level once again, with wing Stewart sneaking over on the left hand side. 

Branwen Metcalfe’s late try looked to have secured the win for RGC, as the hosts took the lead for the first time, but the drama was yet to come at Parc Eirias.

Cardiff were pressing for a late winner when Katie Sims spotted a mis-match down the short-side. The captain fed hooker Williams on the left, who showed the covering defence a clean pair of heels for the second game running to make it level once again.

The difference between a draw and win came down to Bevan’s conversion attempt from out wide. The hours on the training ground certainly paid dividends for the outside half, who slotted a stunning effort to ensure a last gasp bonus point win for the Blue and Blacks.

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 v Cardiff (11am)

RGC v Scarlets (3pm)

Round 5 (Ystrad Mynach) - Sunday, 19 February

Cardiff v Scarlets (1pm)

Dragons v Ospreys (4pm)