Wednesday 7th March 2018
Gowerton year 8: 34 Gwyr year 8: 19
5 star Clifford show takes Gowerton through.
The year 8 Swansea schools’ cup competition is being played under the traditional knockout format and after defeating Cefn Hengoed in the first round, Gowerton entertained Gwyr, the runner-up in last year’s competition, at Elba in the quarter final.
Having been well beaten by the visitors in the group matches of the Welsh cup earlier in the season, they knew they faced a tough challenge if they were going to make progress in this competition. They proved they were up to the task and produced an excellent all round performance that saw them crossing for six tries to allow them to advance confidently into the semi finals.
Gowerton’s star of the show was No.8 Andrew Clifford, whose power and pace enabled him to score five of those tries. Others to impress up front were prop Owen Evans, flanker Jac Meredith and hooker Marley Bushell, all had their best game in a Gowerton shirt, carrying strongly and then presenting the ball perfectly in contact. Flanker Joe Richards and locks Joel Dicks and Logan Miller all competed strongly in the contact area whilst flanker Jamie Terry led the pack well and always had an awareness of space when in possession.
Behind the scrum, Gowerton’s defensive commitment was outstanding and the ‘rush defence’ of half backs Jake Riordan and Nino Romanello, centres Cai Rees and Joe Brito and full back Lewis Roberts denied the visitors’ room and regularly cut them down behind the gain line.
Gwyr competed strongly throughout and had the quickest two players on the pitch in wing Dylan Morgan and centre Osian Davies and defended stoically throughout with fly half Ben Lewis, lock Alex Jones and debutant Pietro Luporini all to the fore.
Gwyr kicked off with the advantage of the stiff breeze behind them, but it was the hosts who were on the front foot first and they took the lead in the 4th minute when hooker Bushell took a scrum against the head on the visitors 22. No.8 Clifford picked up from the base and drove forward strongly before offloading to flanker Terry, he still had a lot to do, but did it with aplomb to cross in the corner.
In the 7th minute the hosts increased their lead when prop Owen Evans won possession just inside his own half, drove forward strongly, hooker Bushell took it on and when No.8 Clifford received the ball 30 metres out he brushed aside two defenders to score a try that captain Riordan converted.
The visitors opened their account in the 14th minute, they moved the ball wide and wing Dylan Morgan received it just outside his 22. He swerved outside his opposite number and then showed his electric pace to sprint 70 metres to score a try that lock Jones converted.
In the second quarter, the pattern remained the same with Gowerton dominating territory and Gwyr’s pace meaning they were a threat on the counter attack. The hosts’ pressure told in the 18th minute, fly half Romanello broke clear from half way only to be denied by Gwyr’s excellent defensive work. However, from the resulting 5 metre scrum the hosts were not going to be denied a second time and No.8 Clifford picked up and drove over for a score that Riordan converted.
On the stroke of half time, Clifford completed his hat trick when good work by prop Charlie Owen took play deep into the visitors’ half and again the No.8 was on hand to power over and score a try that left the hosts with a 24-7 advantage at the break.
Trailing at the break, Gwyr needed to start the second half on the front foot, but the tone was set by man of the match Bushell who gathered the kick and charged 40 metres up field brushing aside several would be tacklers before feeding prop Owen, desperate defence halted him just short of the line, but it was that man Clifford, again proving impossible to stop, who drove over from short range.
Gwyr continued to take advantage of the pace they had out wide and it brought them their second try with 15 minutes left on the watch. It came from the same source as their first, wing Morgan received the ball inside his own 22, he stepped outside his opposite number and sprinted clear to score a try converted by lock Jones.
Sensing an opportunity, the visitors now enjoyed their best spell of the game and with seven minutes left were rewarded with a third score which was again scored from deep and founded on the pace of their outside backs, on this occasion it was centre Osian Davies whose pace took him clear for the try.
Gowerton responded immediately and full back Lewis Roberts gathered a loose kick on half way and set off on a run that took him past several defenders and up to the try line, Gwyr’s defence repulsed his run, but again No.8 Clifford was on hand to claim the score.
The final minutes saw Gowerton on the attack, but Gwyr’s defence was not prepared to yield another try and at full time it was Gowerton who progressed to the semi-final where they have been drawn away to Bryntawe.
Photographs: Joe Richards (year 8)
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