Flanker Will Allman scored one of four tries for the Saints Under-18s © Getty Images
Academy News SAINTS U18 24 DRAGONS 32 Mixed start for Saints youngsters
Academy coach Mark Hopley was encouraged by the Saints Under-18s’ attacking intent in their first game of 2014/15, but also conceded his young side will have to play smarter after slipping to defeat against Dragons.
The Welsh side struck early in both halves and while the hosts would hit back with four well-constructed tries of their own, two in either period, Dragons would build a lead that eventually proved insurmountable.
“It’s always a tough hit out in your first game,” Hopley told SaintsTV. “It was a bit of a mixed side but it was a good chance for them to put into practice some of the things we’ve been working on in the past few weeks.
“Today was mainly about getting out on the field and having a look at some of the lads we’ve not seen before in the Under-18s. We played a lot of rugby, perhaps too much at times given the wind, but it gives us plenty to work on ahead of the Ospreys game on Friday and our target will be to improve steadily with every game this season.”
The Saints had fought back from an early deficit, Paddy McDuell’s smart break and offload sending Will Allman beside the posts for a try converted by George Furbank.
A long break in play for a serious looking injury to scrum-half Robert Smith didn’t stem their momentum for long, goal kicking centre Furbank scooping up a loose Dragons pass to go beneath the posts and add the extras himself for a 14-8 advantage.
A Dragons penalty shortly before meant the lead was six as the teams turned around and the Welshmen would roar ahead, two tries in quick succession following the interval taking them 27-14 up.
A well-worked score looked to have gone begging as the hosts sought a way back into the game but they remained patient to send hooker Freddie Davison into the corner on 54.
It was Dragons who continued to make the most of a relatively even split of possession though and a quick tap penalty would lead to an excellent offloading score from halfway just a few minutes from time.
A late siege on the visitors’ line and multiple penalties eventually led to a Saints fourth through Scott Griffin, but the Dragons’ efforts to delay the score ensured that the mauled effort would be the final act of the game.
The Saints Under-18s host a second home friendly of 2014/15 on Friday evening, Ospreys the visitors to Pitch One. Kick-off is at 7pm and entry is free once more to one and all!
2mins DRAG Try 0-5
12mins SAINTS Try Allman Con Furbank 7-5
25mins DRAG Pen 7-8
29mins SAINTS Try & Con Furbank 14-5
HALF-TIME SAINTS 14 DRAGONS 8
40mins DRAG Try 14-13
46mins DRAG Try & Con 14-20
50mins DRAG Try & Con 14-27
54mins SAINTS Try Davison 19-27
67mins DRAG Try 19-32
70mins SAINTS Try Griffin 24-32
FULL-TIME SAINTS 24 DRAGONS 32