The Aviva A League returned last night, and as ever it produced some thrilling rugby.
This year there are just thirteen teams in the league, with London Irish having opted not to play this year. There has also been a bit of a reshuffle with Wasps moving to the North Division, and Gloucester to the South.
Last night there were 5 games, Exeter Braves v Bath United was postponed until December, and all entertained in abundance.
The action all kicked off in the North Division at 5pm, with Newcastle Falcons taking on Northampton Wanderers, a side who have been consistently strong at A League level for a number of years.
The two teams put on a thriller, but it was Newcastle Falcons who claimed the victory, taking the Lions share of the 59 total points with a 38-21 victory. Sedbergh leaver Max Davies claimed the bonus point try for the Falcons, he was one of a number of young stars in the 23, including AASE back rower from Gosforth Academy, Jack Johnson.
Over in Salford the scoreline was a little lower and closer as Sale Jets hosted Worcester Cavaliers. Both sides had plenty of young stars lining up, including Oundle leavers Ben and Tom Curry as well as England U20 star George Nott for Sale and his fellow U20 stars Andrew Kitchener, Huw Taylor, and Jack Singleton for Worcester.
The game was always a tight one, with Sale taking a 13-8 lead into half time. The hosts did not manage a score in the second half though, however all that the Cavaliers could muster was a penalty, giving the hosts a 13-11 victory.
The final game in the North saw Leicester Tigers A travel to Broadstreet RFC to play Wasps A. Over the weekend Wasps 1st XV beat Leicester away for the first time in almost a decade, but Leicester got their own back on Monday, with their A League side winning 33-20 away at Wasps.
England U20 star, and now Senior Squad member, Will Evans, had a fine game, including one chargedown that helped to set up a try. The game was a real back and forth affair though. Leicester took a 10-3 lead that Wasps hauled back to 10-10, only for Leicester to pull ahead again at 19-10.
However Wasps kept fighting back, and aided by a try from former Shiplake College winger Tom Howe, they took the lead for the first time at 20-19, with a side that included current school stars such as Merchant Taylors’ Will Porter. From there though Leicester put on the afterburners, and eventually secured a 33-20 victory, with a penalty try from the scrum finishing up their scoring.
There were just the two games in the South, with Exeter v Bath being postponed, but they packed in enough excitement all on their own.
Bristol United took on a strong Harlequins side, a tough assignment in their first A League game as a Premiership side in seven years. They came through it brilliantly though, winning 37-26 thanks to tries from Max Crumpton, Charlie Amesbury, Giorgi Nemsadze, and former Wales U20 star Jordan Williams, while Billy Searle landed 17 points with the boot.
Harlequins were decent too though, and their display included a try for former World U20 Player of the Year, James Chisholm, who could be in line for his big defining breakthrough year this year. Bristol were not to be denied though and ran out as strong winners.
The final game saw Gloucester United take on the ever strong Saracens Storm. The game got off to a flying start with three tries in the first ten minutes as the sides quickly blew out any pre-season cobwebs. Gloucester’s greater accuracy helped them to a 22-14 lead at half time, with England U20 star Mat Protheroe, formerly of Hartpury College, making some characteristic breaks.
Given the electric start to the game, you would have expected that to continue into the second half, however there was just one score in the second half, a try from England U20 winger George Perkins for Saracens to reduce the deficit to three points at 22-19. However from there, the 43rd minute, to the end of the game there were no further scores, giving Gloucester United the 22-19 victory.
The A League continues next Monday night, 19th September, before a two week break ahead of a round in early October. It is then two months until the next round in early December.
Aviva A League Round 1 Results:
Newcastle Falcons A 38-21 Northampton Wanderers (17.00)
Sale Jets 13-11 Worcester Cavaliers (19.30)
Wasps A 20-33 Leicester Tigers A (19.30)
Bristol United 37-26 Harlequins A (19.15)
Gloucester United 22-19 Saracens Storm (19.30)
5th December (Exeter Braves v Bath United – rescheduled from this week)
24th April – Semi Finals
1st May – Final
Newcastle Falcons A v Northampton Wanderers
15 Alex Tait, 14 Ben Stevenson, 13 Belisario Agulla, 12 Fred Burdon, 11 Zach Kibirige, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Sam Egerton, 1 Sam Lockwood, 2 Ben Sowrey, 3 Paddy Ryan, 4 Andrew Davidson, 5 Nick Civetta, 6 Joshua Chisanga, 7 Dan Temm, 8 Ally Hogg.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17Adam Brocklebank, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 Max Davies, 20 Jack Johnson, 21 Reiss Cullen, 22 Brett Connon
23 Dan Marshall.
15 George Furbank, 14 Tom Collins, 13 Juan Pablo Estelles, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Howard Packman, 10 Sam Olver, 9 Tom Kessell, 1 Ethan Waller, 2 Charlie Clare, 3 Gareth Denman, 4 Alex Moon, 5 Jordan Onojaife, 6 Calum Clark, 7 Lewis Ludlam, 8 Sion Bennett.
Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Matt Beesley, 18 Adam Parkins, 20 Alex Rayment, 21 Devante Onojaife, 22 Tom Emery, 23 James Grayson.
Sale Jets v Worcester Cavaliers
15 Charlie Ingall, 14 Nick Scott, 13 Ralph Dowds, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Jordan Dorrington, 10 Tom Morton, 9 James Mitchell, 1 James Flynn, 2 Curtis Langdon, 3 Brian Mujati, 4 Matt Postlethwaite, 5 George Nott, 6 Tom Curry, 7 Andy Hughes, 8 Matt Rogerson.
Replacements: 16 Jake Pope, 17 Johnny Matthews, 18 Diogo Ferreira, 19 Tom Sanders, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Connor Dever, 22 Tom Bedlow, 23 Jack Harrison.
15 Josh Adams, 14 Andy Short, 13 Max Stelling, 12 Will Butler, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Tiff Eden. 9 Alex Glashan (Trialist), 1 Ryan Bower, 2 Matti Williams, 3 Biyi Alo, 4 Andrew Kitchener, 5 Christian Scotland-Williamson, 6 Huw Taylor (c), 7 Zac Xiourouppa, 8 Matt Cox.
Replacements: 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Derrick Appiah, 18 Joe White, 19 Justin Clegg , 20 Sam Ripper-Smith, 21 Oliver Allsopp, 22 Josh Nott, 23 Alex Hearle.
Wasps A v Leicester Tigers A
15 Owain James, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Brendan Macken, 11 Conor Dolan, 10 Connor Eastgate, 9 Will Porter, 1 Tom Bristow, 2 Tom Cruse, 3 Will Stuart, 4 James Cannon, 5 Kearnan Myall, 6 Jack Willis, 7 Alex Rieder, 8 Marcus Garratt.
Replacements: 16 George Edgson, 17 Alex Lundberg, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Ehize Ehizode, 20 Tom Willis, 21 Alex Smit, 22 Jacob Umaga, 23 Sam Harry.
15 George Worth, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Charlie Thacker, 12 Jack Roberts, 11 Mick McGrath, 10 Oli Bryant, 9 Jono Kitto, 1 Michele Rizzo, 2 Harry Thacker (c), 3 Fraser Balmain, 4 Harry Wells, 5 Joe Maksymiw, 6 Will Owen, 7 Will Evans, 8 Fred Tuilagi.
Replacements: 16 Harry Mahoney, 17 Logovi’i Mulipola, 18 Ben Betts, 19 Sam Lewis, 20 Sam Grahamslaw, 21 Ben White, 22 Tom Hardwick, 23 Harry Simmons.
Bristol United v Harlequins A
15 Jordan Williams, 14 Elias Caven, 13 Thretton Palamo, 12 Nick Carpenter, 11 Charlie Amesbury, 10 Billy Searle, 9 Martin Roberts, 1 Ryan Bevington, 2 Max Crumpton, 3 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 4 Giorgi Nemsadze, 5 Mark Sorenson, 6 Nick Koster, 7 Nick Fenton-Wells (c), 8 Rayn Smid.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Jack O’Connell, 18 James Hall, 19 Joe Joyce, 20 BJ Edwards, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Robbie Forbes, 23 Maliq Holden.
15 Aaron Morris, 14 Sam Aspland-Robinson, 13 Matt Hopper (c), 12 Winston Stanley, 11 Charlie Walker, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Karl Dickson, 1 Mark Lambert, 2 Joe Gray, 3 Adam Jones, 4 Stan South, 5 George Merrick, 6 Archie White, 7 James Chisholm, 8 George Naoupu.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Piper, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Matt Shields, 19 Nathan Thomas, 20 Charlie Mulchrone, 21 Tim Swiel, 22 James Lang, 23 Gabriel Ibitoye.
Gloucester United v Saracens Storm
15 Mat Protheroe, 14 David Halaifonua, 13 Tom Hudson, 12 Elliott Creed, 11 Tom Seabrook, 10 Lloyd Evans, 9 Callum Braley (c), 1 Paddy McAllister, 2 Greg Jackson, 3 Nicky Thomas, 4 Charlie Beckett, 5 Alex Craig, 6 Fredie Clarke, 7 Dan Thomas, 8 Gareth Evans.
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Ciaran Knight, 18 Josh McNulty, 19 Morgan Morris, 20 Will Safe, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Ben Vellacott, 23 Ollie Graham.
15 Ali Crossdale, 14 Dom Morris, 13 Tim Streather (c), 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 George Perkins, 10 Tom Whiteley, 9 Henry Taylor, 1 Ralph Adams-Hale, 2 Scott Spurling, 3 Titi Lamositele, 4 Mark Flanagan, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 6 Jack Nay, 7 Ben Earl, 8 Samu Vunisa.
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 18 Billy Walker, 19 Byron Hodge, 20 Anthony Maka, 21 Neil De Kock, 22 Tom Griffiths, 23 Rotimi Segun.