The U18 Academy Premiership returns this week after a week long absence, for the penultimate round before finals day.
The Northern Conference looks like a real tussle for top spot between Northampton Saints and Gloucester, with Saints a point ahead with a game in hand, while Saracens are five clear of Bath in the Southern Conference with a game in hand too.
Both sides make up that game in hand this weekend with Gloucester and Bath sitting this round out, while Saracens travel to Exeter Chiefs on Saturday and Northampton Saints making the trip to Sale Sharks on Sunday.
The trip to Exeter for Saracens will be particularly tough, Exeter are level with Bath five points behind Saracens, and like the London club, they too have a game in hand over Bath. Therefore a win would lift Exeter into second, while a bonus points victory would draw them level with Saracens at the top â€“ making next weekâ€™s final round a very exciting one indeed.
Saintsâ€™ task ought to be easier, Sale have just one victory to their name this season, however a victory for the Sharks could see them charge into third in the conference should other results go their way.
The action began last night though as Wasps scored five tries and secured a clean sheet against Harlequins thanks to braces from Harrow duo Callum Sirker and Owain James, and a final score from Henley College wing Caleb Shepherd.
That result moves Wasps temporarily into second place in the Southern Conference, with Harlequins still sitting uncomfortably just four points clear of Bristol at the bottom.
Staying in the South, on Saturday London Irish host Bristol. Bristol are currently bottom of the Conference and without a win so they will be desperate to improve on that record, while Irish are in fifth with an even win/loss record and could, in theory, jump into second place with a big enough win.
Back in the Northern Conference, Leicester Tigers host Yorkshire Carnegie, who like Bristol are winless at the foot of the table. Leicester will be looking for maximum points to try to keep the pressure on Northampton and Gloucester ahead of them, however Yorkshire will be determined as a win could see them leapfrog Newcastle Falcons.
Newcaslte will be doing all they can to avoid that though when they welcome Worcester Warriors to Kingston Park. Worcester, like Leicester, might be entertaining the idea of possibly breaking into the top two, while for Newcastle it will al be about making sure Yorkshire cannot overhaul them, and the looking at potentially breaking into the mid table region.
It ought to be an exciting weekend of U18 Premiership rugby, and with Maro Itoje having been selected for the England Saxons earlier this week, the players ought to be feeling confident and excited about their future possibilities, having seen just how close the gap from U18 rugby to Saxons rugby can be. After all, last year Itoje was lifting the JWC with England U20, and the year before he was playing U18s rugby.
Whose progress are you excited about from the current crop in the U18 Premiership? Let us know your thoughts via the comment box below or on @FifteenRugbyXV
U18 Academy Premiership Fixtures:
Wasps v Harlequins â€“ Wasps win with a bonus point, final score unconfirmed as yet.
Exeter 12-8 Saracens
Leicester Tigers 41-5 Yorkshire Carnegie
London Irish 51-13 Bristol
Newcastle Falcons 18-13 Worcester Warriors
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints â€“ Haywood Road, 12.00
15. Owain James (Harrow)Â 14. Callum Sirker (Harrow)Â 13. Conor Dolan (Wellington College)Â 12. Conor Eastgate (The Henley College)Â 11. Caleb Shepherd (The Henley College)Â 10. Harry Sheppard (Wasps Academy)Â 9. James Small-Edwards (St Paulâ€™s)Â 1. Tom West (Wasps Academy)Â 2. Jamie Cox (Abingdon)Â 3. Will Stuart (Wasps Academy)Â 4. Jacob Turner (The Henley College)Â 5. Ehize Ehizode (St Benedictâ€™s)Â 6. Jack Willis (The Henley College)Â 7. Seun Coker (Stowe)Â 8. Will Wilson (Wellington College).
Replacements: 16. Jamie Spanswick (St Benedictâ€™s)Â 17. Curtis Reynolds (Oaklands College)Â 18. Cecil McCarthy (The Henley College)Â 19. Seb Cecil (Stowe)Â 20. Mike Dewar (Abingdon)Â 21. Al Gliksten (Harrow)Â 22. Tim Bitrim (Oaklands College) 23. Connor McClean (St Georgeâ€™s).
Wilkey,Â Gasson,Â Ugodulunwa,Â Tilleray,Â Gratton,Â Obano,Â Okafor,Â White,Â Thomas,Â Gulliver,Â Keunen,Â Richardson,Â Lamb-Cona.
Saunders,Â R. Morley,Â Brinkley,Â Harrison,Â Coyle,Â Hennessy,Â Sackey,Â Simmons,Â Lewthwaite,Â Aspland-Robinson.
15 Will SuttonÂ 14 Sam YawayawaÂ 13 Wesley DouglasÂ 12 Charlie ThackerÂ 11 Paolo OdogwuÂ 10 George WorthÂ 9 Ben WhiteÂ 1 Owen HillsÂ 2 Luis EvittÂ 3 Fred TuilagiÂ 4 Joe GreenÂ 5 Alex GalletlyÂ 6 Zak PooleÂ 7 Oliver PovoasÂ 8 Stone Priestley-Nangle.
Replacements: Â 16 Jamie JackÂ 17 Aubrey GrimesÂ 18 Jake ChartersÂ 19 Will EvansÂ 20 Charlie HarveyÂ 21 Emilio FuscoÂ 22 Jordan OlowofelaÂ 23 Lewis Winterbottom.
1. Charlie Capps 2. Jordon Poole 3. Nathan Smith 4. Ross Kirtland 5. Elliott Ward 6. James Sanderson 7. Lewis Wilson 8. Brandon Staples 9. Max Green 10. Max Wright (c) 11. Suva Ma’asi 12. Connor Field 13. Tom Bullough 14. James Pinder 15. Will Smith.
Replacements: 16. Luke Chadwick 17. Will Dennis 18. Harry Newborn 19. Jimmy McDaniel 20. Sam Harrison.
15 Tom Putt 14 Aaron Chapman 13 Harry Strong 12 Noax Sixton 11 Harrison Cully 10 James McFarlane 9 Jack Maunder 1 Oli Dawe 2 Aiden Taylor 3 Billy Keast 4 Connor Oâ€™Shaugnessy 5 Kieran Westlake 6 Josh Caulfield 7 Nat Bayett 8 Declan Matthews .
Replacements:Â 16 Liam Hilliar 17 Luke Trewhella 18 Alex Rodd 19 Angus Brown 20 Toby Papp 21 Matthew Butler 22 Olly Avery-Wright 23 Brad Jane.
1. Ralph Hale-AdamsÂ 2. Harrison KingÂ 3. Billy WalkerÂ 4. Hamish HughesÂ 5. Nick IsiekweÂ 6. Jacob MoodyÂ 7. Ethan WaddletonÂ 8. Ben EarlÂ 9. Alex PattonÂ 10. Max MalinsÂ 11. Euan Dickson-EarleÂ 12. Fili SavouÂ 13. Dominic MorrisÂ 14. Alex GilhamÂ 15. Matt Gallagher.
Replacements: 16. Aston Lester Â 17. Taylor Reed Â 18. Seb Brownhill Â 19. Danny Cutmore Â 20. Alex Everett Â 21. Freddie Hatton Â 22. Jack Longhurst Â 23. Tom Ffitch.
1 Elliott Beattie (Gateshead College) Â 2 Jamie Blamire (Gosforth Academy) Â 3 James Orritt (Sedbergh) Â 4 Aidan Coulthard (West Lakes College) Â 5 Michael Walton (Durham)Â 6 Harry Borthwick (Berwick RFC) Â 7 Joe Craggs (Gosforth Academy)Â 8 Callum Chick (c) (Gosforth Academy)Â 9 Harry Graham (Worksop College)Â 10 Sam Leeming (Barnard Castle)Â 11 Connor Stewart (Durham)Â 12 Lloyd Purser (Durham)Â 13 Ben Stevenson (Yarm)Â 14 Garry Izomor (Durham)Â 15 Dan Marshall (Gosforth Academy).
Replacements: 16 Dan Gray (Newcastle School for Boys)Â 17 Jack Beckwith (Barnard Castle)Â 18 Adam Mohammed (Gosforth Academy)Â 19 Anth Davies (Newcastle School for Boys)Â 20 Richard Marr (Gosforth Academy)Â 21 Charlie Gowling (Sedbergh) Â 22 Jamie Preston (Barnard Castle)Â 23 Jack Appleton (Newcastle School for Boys).
15 George Trimmer (Old Swindford Hospital School)Â 14 Tainne Finn (Hartpury College)Â 13 Will Hollis (King’s Worcester)Â 12 Will Butler (Hereford Cathedral School)Â 11 Baron Abrahams (Worcester Sixth Form College)Â 10 Jamie Shilcock (Warwick)Â 9 Josh Nott (Hartpury College)Â 1 James Page (Malvern College)Â 2 Jack Singleton (Warriors Academy)Â 3 Joe Morris (KES Aston)Â 4 Andrew Kitchener (Warriors Academy)Â 5 Justin Clegg (Bromsgrove)Â 6 Myles Edwards (Worcester Sixth Form College)Â 7 Sam Smith (Warriors Academy)Â 8 Ben Fowles (Solihull) (c).
Replacements:Â 16 George Newman (Worcester Sixth Form College)Â 17 Joe White (Worcester Sixth Form College)Â 18 Ben Davies-Moore (Worcester Sixth Form College)Â 19 Max Hill (Worcester Sixth Form College)Â 20 Charlie Morgan (Solihull)Â 21 Jacob Ham (King’s Worcester)Â 22 Sam Hollingsworth (Worcester Sixth Form College)Â 23 Harry Robinson (Hartpury College).
London Irish â€“ TBA
Bristol â€“ TBA
Sale Sharks â€“ TBA
15 George FurbankÂ 14 Tosin SegunÂ 13 Jamel HamiltonÂ 12 Freddie McKibbinÂ 11 Adam ShawÂ 10 James GraysonÂ 9 Rob SmithÂ 1 Ryan EveleighÂ 2 Rob MarmionÂ Â 3 Luc JeannotÂ 4 Alex MoonÂ 5 John Hawkins (c)Â 6 Tim CardallÂ 7 Will AllmanÂ 8 George Cox.
Replacements: 16 Alex RaymentÂ 17 Jake ByrneÂ 18 Ehren PainterÂ 19 Toby TrinderÂ 20 Jake CarterÂ 21 Ben RichardsonÂ 22 Gregor HaldaneÂ 23 Charlton Kerr.