The final A League fixture of the regular season takes place at 19.15 tonight as Bristol United host Saracens Storm at Clifton RFC.
The game was scheduled to take place last week but a waterlogged pitch saw it postponed. For Bristol it is something of a dead rubber, they will finish 6th in the Southern Conference regardless of the result, but for Saracens it is key for the semi final.
Saracens are guaranteed a semi final place, they take place on Monday 25th April, but a win would see them top the group and host Newcastle Falcons A at Allianz Park, while a defeat would see them finish second, behind Exeter Braves, and therefore facing a trip to Franklin’s Gardens to face Northampton Wanderers.
Accordingly, Bristol United have picked a side with a huge number of University students, plus a few schoolboys, as they look to preserve as much of their senior squad as possible as they head towards the Championship play-offs, and a potential return to the Aviva Premiership.
Bristol U18 full back Dan Powell gets a start, with three further Bristol U18 players, Millfield scrum half Josh Barton, Christ College’s James Newey, and SGS Filton College’s Ezra Caven on the bench.
Three Bristol University students make the starting fifteen, Sam Jeffries starts at blindside, with an all Bristol Uni centre pairing of Will Sharratt and former Bedford School skipper, Charlie Esam. Their University teammates Jordan Bordley and Max Cresswell are on the bench.
Hartpury College also boast three starters, Mark Harrison starts on the wing with Jacob Perry at fly half and Alec Cleary at loosehead. They also have Joe Dancer on the bench along side former Millfield loosehead Alfie Barron.
Saracens meanwhile opt for a touch more experience through the likes of Nils Mordt, who captains the side at fly half, prop Rhys Gill, and second row Kieran Low.
However they too bring in a few schoolboys, Haileybury second row Nick Isiekwe, who has been starring for England U18, gets a start, his England U18 teammate Jack Nay of Bekhamsted is on the bench, along with Oakland’s College’s Taylor Reed and Jack Longhurst.
Former Whitgift pupil Matt Gallagher is at outside centre after starting on the wing for England U19 on Saturday, loosehead Ralph Adams-Hale also played in that game, he is on the bench.
A number of recent England U20 stars are in the side, including full back Aaron Morris, wing Nathan Earle, and tighthead Biyi Alo, all of whom are U20 World Championship winners, Rotimi Segun starts on the right wing, he is a former U18 international who has been starring for Loughborough Students since finishing at Stowe in June 2015, former Millfield star Tom Whiteley is on the bench after excelling for Rosslyn Park on Saturday.
A win of any sort for Saracens would see them through to a home semi final against Newcastle Falcons, if not they are away at Northampton. This side will be determined to retain the title that they so brilliantly won last year under the captaincy of a certain Maro Itoje.
Bristol United v Saracens Storm – Clifton RFC, 19.15
15 Dan Powell (Academy U18s/Exmouth RFC)
14 Mark Harrison (Hartpury College)
13 Charlie Esam (Bristol Uni)
12 Will Sharratt (Bristol Uni)
11 Darren Hudson
10 Jacob Perry (Hartpury College)
9 Andy Uren
1 Alec Cleary (Hartpury College)
2 Max Crumpton
3 James Hall
4 Joe Joyce
5 Glen Townson (c)
6 Sam Jeffries (Bristol Uni)
7 Chris Brooker
8 Rayn Smid
Replacements: 16 James Stephenson 17 Alfie Barron (Hartpury College) 18 Jordan Brodley (Bristol Uni) 19 Joe Dancer (Hartpury College) 20 Max Cresswell (Bristol Uni) 21 Josh Barton (Academy U18s/Millfield) 22 James Newey (Academy U18s/Christ College) 23 Ezra Caven (Academy U18s/SGS Filton).
15 Aaron Morris
14 Rotimi Segun
13 Matthew Gallagher
12 Tim Streather
11 Nathan Earle
10 Nils Mordt (c)
9 Ben Spencer
1 Rhys Gill
2 Josh Taylor
3 Biyi Alo
4 Nick Isiekwe
5 Kieran Low
6 Kiefer Laxton
7 Seb Nagle-Taylor
8 Anthony Maka
Replacements: 16 Ben Wilkinson 17 Ralph Adams-Hale 18 Taylor Reed 19 Josh Tyler 20 Jack Nay 21 Peter White 22 Tom Whiteley 23 Jack Longhurst.
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