Academy News Diggin: Dublin tour will give Under-18s chance to grow as a group
Academy coach Paul Diggin says that next week’s two-match tour in Dublin will give the Saints Under-18s time to develop and improve as a team.
There has been a frenzy of activity for the Under-18s squad this week, with Friday night’s game against the Ospreys coming just two days after another Anglo-Welsh clash with Newport-Gwent Dragons. And with over 40 players having seen action over the two games Diggin says that the coaches have had the opportunity to learn a lot about the group.
“It’s a great opportunity for us as coaches to see players in a different light,” he told SaintsTV. “Obviously we’ve done a lot of training, but you can't really get a feel for it unless you’re in a match situation.
“I think we saw some great rugby today from both sides, I was very impressed with the Ospreys 10, who I thought had a very good game for them. He ran the show for them really well, and we gave him a lot of space in the first half. I think we improved a lot in the second half, we closed him out, we closed them out in general and we scored some really nice tries.”
The Saints started well, scoring the first try of the match through fly half Robbie Povey with just five minutes on the clock. But while Povey would add a second before half-time the tone of the match was set by quick responses from the visitors.
Each time the Saints crossed the whitewash the travellers would reply within five minutes, and two further tries before half-time took the Ospreys 14 points clear. Their fly half was the standout player, picking up 10 of those points including an outstanding successful conversion from the sideline. And as well as some more impressive kicking from the player, he also stepped around several Saints players before sprinting to the posts to add another five points to the Ospreys score.
So it was to their credit that, after having been on the back foot for large parts of the first half, the Saints youngsters held the Ospreys to just the one try scoring opportunity after the break. Indeed, the first score of the second half came for the Saints after 55 minutes, when a powerful maul brought another five points on to the scoreline.
However the response was just as it had been in the first half, with a searing break bringing a try for the Ospreys and a 16-point lead.
Nevertheless the Saints refused to buckle and dominated the last 10 minutes of the game. They mixed their game, stole a crucial lineout through Cameron Lawes, and had the last say of the action with a Dom Hammond try four minutes from time.
6mins SAINTS Try Povey 5-0
11mins OSPREYS Try and Con 5-7
17mins SAINTS Try Povey Con Povey 12-7
22mins OSPREYS Try and Con 12-14
32mins OSPREYS Try 12-19
35mins OSPREYS Try and Con 12-26
HALF-TIME SAINTS 12 OSPREYS 26
55mins SAINTS Try 17-26
58mins OSPREYS Try and Con 17-33
66mins SAINTS Try Hammond 22-33
FULL-TIME SAINTS 22 OSPREYS 33