Boosted by winning the previous week’s Nelson Round Robin tournament by defeating Treorchy Youth and Nelson Youth, Bridgend Athletic Youth once again travelled East on Friday evening, August 31, for a final preseason friendly at Machen.
With 15 of last year’s under-16 side boosted by seven senior youth players, the Athletic faced a more experienced fit looking Machen side.
However, led by new captain hooker Jack Obbard and aided by a dominant scrum and well-functioning line out, the Athletic were on top throughout.
The Ath started strongly with some driving runs through forwards and backs, pushing the Machen team back constantly. A great pass from centre Danny Osarigie saw fellow centre Tom Florence run a great angle to race through the Machen defence from inside his own half for their first score which was converted by outside half Ethan White.
A short while later Florence had the strength to break through to score his second try, again converted by White.
The Ath continued to pile on the pressure up front and winger Luke Thomas flew over in the corner, only for the try to be disallowed as the scoring pass was judged forward.
This did not deter the Ath and from a ruck in the opposition 22, centre Danny Osarigie cut through to score under the posts, with White adding his third conversion to give his side a 21-0 half time lead.
The remainder of the 22-man squad were then introduced for the second half which did not diminish the Athletic’s cutting edge. However, a glut of penalty decisions against the Ath saw Machen take advantage and cross for a converted try from a driving line out.
The Ath responded with powerful runs from captain Jack Obbard, Michael Gillette and Ryan Neagle, setting up a ruck on the Machen 10-metre line.
Fantastic handling by the backs saw centre Danny Osarigie fly over the line and score his second try under the posts with White adding his fourth conversion.
Indiscipline proved costly for the Athletic as a rash of conceded penalties allowed Machen back into the game with two tries to reduce their deficit to 28-17.
The Ath settled back down and continued to attack at every opportunity with their forwards on top at set pieces and in the loose.
A turnover ball just inside the Machen half and great handling from forwards and backs saw supporting prop Logan Shearan give a great pass to send winger George Tellem flying over in the corner for a ‘try’.
However, much to the dismay of Tellem and all the travelling supporters, for the second time in the match the scoring pass was deemed forward.
However, a short while later the Ath were themselves awarded a rare penalty which White kicked into touch 15 metres from the Machen line. A great line out take saw the ball fed quickly from scrum half Lewis to outside half White, a dummy run by centre Dan O’Sullivan saw fellow centre Danny Osarigie race through a gap and speed over for his try hat-trick on the night.
White was close to a perfect night, but his conversion sailed just wide of the upright with the Athletic settling for a convincing 33-17 win.
The coaching team of head coach Chris Thomas, Paul Yardley, Jonathan Davies and Huw Lewis, buoyed by good numbers in training, have brought good technique and confidence to the team.
They were extremely happy on the night with the attitude and skills shown by all 22 players who took part in this game rounding off a very good pre-season. Five tries were scored, another two disallowed and numerous other chances also went narrowly astray. The forwards were dominant and the backs looked extremely sharp.
The squad can go into their first league game of the season this Saturday, September 7, away at Tonmawr followed by a juicy local derby with Bridgend Sports with great optimism for a successful league campaign.