After their performance against Newbridge on Saturday, the take home message for the Gogs is that although they are still 18months away from a Premiership place, they can compete at Division 1 level.
One of the advantages of their experience against sides like Sale Jets and Worcester Warriors A is that the Gogs, as individuals and as a team have learned how to play rugby at a high level. There are two clear messages at this level; every mistake, be it missed tackle or turnover, is a potential try and every try scoring opportunity has to be finished to put points on the board.
This was evident again on Saturday, when 16 Gogs, depleted by injury and bereavement, traveled down to Newbridge to face a team that has topped Division 1 for most of this season. After 60 minutes, with 2 tries under their belt the Gogs trailed 29-17. Four further try scoring opportunities went begging. Hooker Andrew Baston playing at 6 in place of the injured Richard Hughes, broke the line for a second time but narrowly failed to score his second try and two incisive breaks by Rhodri Carlton Jones should have given the Gogs a further 10 points. Wing Christian Lillie coming in as late replacment for Richie Hopkins also failed to gather a ball, metres short of the line.
The Gogs expected a tough physical contest and the front five of Tom Hughes, Dave Blackwell, Osian Williams, Steven Williams and Llion Trefor held a steady scrum for 80 minutes. Newbridge, with the advantage of numbers on the bench, were able to replace their front row before the end of the game. The Gogs were without their full compliment of props; Elgan Davies, James Jones and Steve Barnard were missing because of injury
Outside the hard fought forward battle, Newbridge were enterprising in attack. Their inside centre and strong running wing threatened throughout the game with most of their tries coming from these positions. In the last 10 minutes of the game the Gogs conceded two tries to make the final score a flattering 43-17 but this was an enormous confidence boost for Will Bown's men and Gogledd Cymru's development.