TEAMS from across England and Wales travelled to Somerset to take part in the Tigers Challenge Rugby Festival hosted by the community arm of Leicester Tigers RFC.

The under 13s competition was the largest in the festival with 16 teams, eight from Wales and eight from England, competing for the trophy over the two days.

Croesyceiliog RFC under 13s travelled with a strong squad of 19 players and competed alongside teams from Cwmbran RFC and Pontypool United RFC.

With a league format for the competition, Croesyceiliog had to negotiate their group stage, with only the winning team going through to the cup competition.

First up for them were Barnet Elizabethans RFC from North London who were stubborn in defence on a narrow pitch and held out until almost half time, but strong play around the ruck allowed Croesyceiliog to stretch into a lead and then finish with a six-try victory.

Next up was the only Welsh opposition in the group in the shape of Morriston RFC from Swansea.

On a larger pitch Croesy stretched the defence and ended the game with a 50 points to nil victory.

The final game of day one was against Witney RFC from Oxfordshire, who were a powerful side and fielded two players in the Saracens junior system, but again Croesyceiliog’s pace and power proved too much for them and they rounded off the day with another 30 points to nil win.

Having topped their group, Croesyceiliog went into day two and the Premier Cup competition, facing the other three group winners in the shape of Trebanos RFC from Swansea, Wolverhampton Rugby Club and Carmarthen Athletic RFC.

In the first game, Trebanos came out very strongly in an effort to shock the Croesy team and scored early on, breaching the Croesyceiliog defence for the first time in the competition.

They then tried to play a ball retention game to run the clock down, but gradually the Croesy forwards began to dominate the breakdown and their off-loading game came to the fore.

They repeatedly broke the Trebanos gain-line and ran in three tries in quick succession to win 15 points to 5.

The second finals match was against Wolverhampton who had dominated their qualifying group, but two early tries for Croesyceiliog by their flying wingers Max Thomas-Frost and Ieuan Tovey seemed to knock their confidence and Croesy ended the game with a 40 points to nil victory.

So everything was set up for a winners-take-all match against Carmarthen Athletic who had also gone through the competition unbeaten, with their only dropped points a draw with Trebanos.

Again Croesy started strongly with an early try, but Carmarthen struck back with a breakaway try down the blindside from a ruck.

This was definitely a game where defence was key. Both sides were organised and determined in their tackling.

Presented with a scrum 15 metres out, the Croesy forwards presented the ball on a plate for scrum half Sam Harvey who spun it wide to Matty Taylor at stand-off. Taylor shaped to pass wide and then popped a short ball to Thomas-Frost coming off his blindside wing, who out-paced the wrong-footed defence and scored in the corner for what proved to be the last score of the match giving Croesy a 10 – 5 victory and the trophy.

In the same competition, Cwmbran RFC finished a very impressive 6th overall out of the 16 teams, having narrowly been pipped by Bridgend Athletic to the Shield Trophy.

Pontypool United had a strong second day of competition which allowed them to lift the Bowl Trophy.

Croesyceiliog under 13s now move on to preparation for the final of the Gwent Junior District Association Cup against Chepstow RFC on the 14th of May at Ystrad Mynach Centre for Sporting Excellence.

Croesyceiliog RFC Touring Squad: Luke Guy; Kai Cozens; Ieuan Tovey; Jordan Morris; Ieuan Tucker (c) Josh Davies; Owain Weston (all Croesyceiliog Comprehensive); Matty Taylor; Sam Harvey (both St Albans RC High); Jack Pearce; Kian Harvey; Tyler Bowden (all Newport High); Max Thomas-Frost; Josh Hamer (both Caerleon Comprehensive); Cameron Bolton; Rhys Wilkins-Jones; Brad Hurter (all Ysgol Gwynllyw); Nathan Barrett (Bassaleg Comprehensive); Sam Allford (Abersychan Comprehensive).