The hallowed turf of the Principality Stadium held no fears for the Abergavenny RFC Youth team on Saturday, as family and club supporters cheered them on to national glory, reports COLIN EVANS.
Just three years after the club’s senior team stormed to the WRU Bowl at the national ground, it was the turn of the youngsters to lift silverware with a great performance against Cwmafan in the WRU Youth Plate final.
The coaches had an unenviable task of picking a team of players from a squad of 30 plus, all of whom have represented the club with distinction during the season.
And the selected starting team were Matthew Hancock, Oscar Greenland, Will Phillips, Seren Strong-Wright, Ben Main, Angus Brown, Harri Williams and James Trumper (capt) in the forwards; and Owen Phillips, Evan Wyatt, Tomas Bosoff, Jo Brook, Finley Robertson, Kiatisak Tinanop and Adam Binmore made up the three-quarters.
On the bench ready to join the fray were Sam Woolley, Harry Judd, Seth Butler, Jack Thomas-Hewartson, Evan Jones, Griff Wyatt, William Scrivens and Joseph Hynes.
A large crowd of Abergavenny supporters had made their way to Cardiff and greeted their team with a tremendous ovation as Morgan Butterfield led them out onto the pitch.
And from the kick-off, the team settled into a pattern of play that has become their trademark this season.
Firstly they used their ball carriers to get over the gain line before spreading the ball wide to give their centres and wingers quick ball to test out the opposition defence.
Angus Brown and Ben Main were soon punching holes up the middle of the field and Finley Robertson and Tom Bosoff were looking threatening out wide.
Abergavenny dominated territory and possession in the first 20 minutes, but the Cwmafan defence held firm.
But Aber secured some points for their efforts when Evan Wyatt confidently kicked a close-range penalty through the posts to make it 3-0.
From the restart Cwmafan came right back into the game and began to win Abergavenny’s line-out ball and compete strongly at the breakdown.
They used this possession to good effect with several of their three-quarters proving a real handful for the Abergavenny defence.
Adam Binmore and Jo Brook defended manfully on several occasions, but two tackles by Ben Main on wingers running at full pace proved to be try-saving tackles.
Half-time arrived with Abergavenny holding a narrow lead, but knowing they had a real contest on their hands with Cwmafan on top at the end of the half.
The interval gave the Monmouthshire outfit time to sort out the line-out and problems at the breakdown.
And with more first phase possession they hit their straps soon after the restart, Will Phillips and Matt Hancock carrying strongly to provide forward momentum.
Owen Phillips then had the opportunity to distribute good ball for his three-quarters, and Kiatisak Tinanop and Adam Binmore had several impressive runs.
A penalty was won near the Cwmafan try-line and rather than kick at the post, it was tapped quickly, driven forward by Seren Strong-Wright and Matt Hancock before Oscar Greenland forced his way over the line for the opening try for an 8-0 lead.
Abergavenny continued to impose themselves on the game playing with confidence and happy to spread the ball out wide.
And a flowing move then found Harri Williams out wide, who cleverly slipped through the tackle of the winger before stepping inside the centre to score an important try converted by Evan Wyatt to take the score to 15-3.
Harry Judd and Jack Thomas-Hewartson came on to strengthen up the forwards while Sam Woolley and Joseph Hynes reinforced the backs.
They all added impetus to the Abergavenny effort and they were soon on the attack again.
James Trumper who had led the team from the front all afternoon took the ball up the middle once again, and from the breakdown Evan Wyatt put up a high ball under the posts which caused chaos in the Cwmafan defence before Sam Woolley pounced on the loose ball to score a third try, converted by Wyatt to stretch the lead to 22-3.
Seth Butler, Evan Jones, Griff Wyatt and Will Scrivens were introduced into the game to see the game out in the final quarter.
But Cwmafan still had a lot to offer in the game and were soon attacking with their elusive runners.
And a flowing move resulted in their winger going over for a converted try in the corner to make it 22-10.
The Afan Valley side still had time to threaten the try-line once again, but the Abergavenny defence held firm and they were able to close out a terrific game and record an historic win in the Principality Stadium.