Saracens Storm lifted the Aviva A League title last night with a 27-19 win at Sixways over Worcester Cavaliers.
Led by England U20s star and 2014 JWC winner, lock forward Maro Itoje, Saracens raced to a 21-0 lead through tires from Itoje himself, number 8 Nick De Jager, and Itojeâ€™s fellow JWC winner and Storm blindside Hayden Thompson-Stringer, all converted by scrum half Ben Spencer.
It had taken just 20 minutes for Saracens to get that 21-0 lead but a yellow card for Itoje, in what was becoming a feisty encounter, just opened the door for Worcester Cavaliers, who through a penalty try and a further score from captain and scrum half JB Bruzulier, both converted by Ignacio Mieres, pegged Storm back to 21-14 at the break.
A Spencer penalty took Saracens ten points ahead at 24-14 before further hangbags saw Cavaliers number 8 Richard De Carpentier and Storm openside Matt Hankin yellow carded.
Â A late try from Cavaliers winger James Stephenson threatened to set up a tense final few minutes as Worcester closed the gap to just five points, however a Ben Spencer penalty for Saracens Storm with just a couple of minutes left sealed the game at 27-19 for Saracens Storm.
Saracens staff and players were all keen after the game to point out how much the togetherness of the team had been a factor in victory, but also how important the Academy players were and how excited they are about the prospects of these young players coming through.
Perhaps none more so than Itoje, who seems destined for great things. To be captaining an A League winning side at just 20 years of age is some achievement, but given his performances it seems hardly suprising.
It is fitting then to give the final word to the young lock, whose comments off the field express just as much maturity as his play on it:
â€œIâ€™m filled with joy at the moment. Iâ€™m so proud of everyone, the team, the staff, everyone who has come into the set-up and contributed. Itâ€™s been a great team effort, and a lot of players have been putting shifts in week-in-week-out, and Iâ€™m happy for them. Itâ€™s been a good night.â€
â€œThis is team is one of the tightest teams that Iâ€™ve ever been a part of, everyone gets along with each other and everyone enjoys each otherâ€™s company. We train hard and I think this team is right up there with any side Iâ€™ve played in, that fight, that determination is incredible.â€œ
Aviva A League Final â€“ Worcester Cavaliers 19-27 Saracens
15 Ben Howard;Â 14 James Stephenson,Â 13 Alex Grove,Â 12 Ravai Fatiaki,Â 11 Dean Hammond;Â 10 Ignacio Mieres,Â 9 JB Bruzulier (c),Â 1 Ofa Faingaâ€™anuku,Â 2 Niall Annett,Â 3 Joe Rees,Â 4 James Percival,Â 5 Dan Sanderson,Â 6 Huw Taylor,Â 7 Mat Gilbert,Â 8 Richard de Carpentier.
Replacements:Â 16 Ben Sowrey,Â 17 Ryan Bower,Â 18 Mike Daniels,Â 19 Shay Kerry,Â 20 Charlie Mulchrone,Â 21 Robbie Keith,Â 22 Perry Humphreys,Â 23 Andrew Boyce.
15. Ben Ransom;Â 14. Mike Ellery,Â 13. Tim Streather,Â 12. Nick Tompkins,Â 11. Catalin Fercu;Â 10. Nils Mordt,Â 9. Ben Spencer;Â 1. Rhys Gill,Â 2. Jared Saunders,Â 3. Biyi Alo,Â 4. Maro Itoje (c),Â 5. Hayden Smith,Â 6. Hayden Thompson-Stringer,Â 7. Matt Hankin,Â 8. Nick de Jager.
Replacements:Â 16. Josh Taylor,Â 17. Jack Culverhouse,Â 18. Ben Featherstone,Â 19. Jack Tredrea,Â 20. Kennett Oâ€™Neil,Â 21. Tom Whiteley,Â 22. Max Wilkins,Â 23. Thretton Palamo.