Round 2 of the Aviva A League saw the future stars of the professional game shine once again.
In the absence of the LV=Cup last season, the A League took on extra importance for the development of young players, this season, at least early on, it seems to be maintaining that extra youthful feel.
There were three games in the North Division, with Leicester Tigers A hosting Newcastle Falcons A, Northampton Wanderers travelling to Worcester Cavaliers, and Wasps hosting Sale Jets.
The Leicester v Newcastle game was a repeat of the weekend’s fixture between the two 1st XVs, which Tigers won in dramatic fashion as Newcastle missed a simple drop goal opportunity for the win.
In the A League it was similarly tight, and once again they were the victors in an incredible tense game. This time though it was through an action of their own that they won, with fly half George Worth nailing a penalty with the last touch of the game to bring his side from 28-29 down to win 31-29.
Tigers led 19-0 at half time thanks to tries from skipper Harry Thacker, Harry Wells, and Fred Tuilagi. However Newcastle came flying out of the traps in the second half, scoring five tries through Joe Sproston, a Zach Kibirige brace, Craig Willis, and Adam Radwan, eventually giving them the lead with five minutes to play. However Worth had the final say, giving Leicester a most dramatic victory.
Over at Sixways there was another high scoring game as Northampton Wanderers beat Worcester Cavaliers 45-20. Northampton led 31-8 at the break thanks to tries from Tom Collins, Tom Kessell, Howard Packman, and Jordan Onojaife, whose younger brother Devante, another Stowe old boy, was on the bench.
They then extended their lead through Reece Marshall before Worcester upped their game through a try from Shrewsbury 6th form College’s Alex Hearle. It was tit for tat in the second half through, and Collins soon had Saints out in the forties with his second, before the Cavaliers took advantage of Marshall’s yellow card to score a try through Josh Nott to leave the final score at 45-20.
Over at Broadstreet RFC, where Wasps are playing A League games this year as they get more fully settled into the West Midlands area, the home side were in total control against Sale Jets as they soared to a 36-0 victory.
Scrum half Craig Hampson was the buzzing presence that Wasps rallied around as they ran in six tries, including a brace for Sam Harry and tries for England U20 star Jack Willis, former Shiplake College wing Tom Howe, and ex Harrow full back Owain James, as well as a penalty try as the Wasps maul put unstoppable pressure on the Sale defence.
Action in the South actually began at the weekend, with Saracens Brave beating Exeter Braves 27-17 on Sunday.
Saracens’ Tom Whiteley, formerly of Millfield School, starred in the unfamiliar position of fly half. He scored along with scrum half on the night Henry Taylor, ex Cranleigh, Rotimi Segun, ex Stowe, and the old timer Neil De Kock, who came on as a replacement. Exeter Braves were led by the former Blundell’s scrum half Jack Maunder, who scored a try but then went off injured.
That left just two further games to be played in the South on Monday evening, Bath United v Bristol United, and Harlequins A v Gloucester United.
Bristol won last week with an experienced team, and pulled exactly the same trick out of that hat this week against Bath United, winning 28-20 at The Rec.
Elias Caven, Giorgi Nemsadze, Rhodri Williams, and James Hall all scored for Bristol. At half time it seemed that Bristol were in control, leading 18-7. However former Bryanston and England U20 playmaker Rory Jennings landed a penalty for Bath, before the Scotland U20 and former Millfield fly half Adam Hastings scored a wonderful converted try to close the game down to just a point at 18-17 to the away side.
However a timely penalty from Billy Searle stemmed the tide for Bristol, with James Hall’s try pushing Bristol back into a comfortable lead as the game approached the hour mark. From there Bath could only land one more Jennings penalty, leaving Bristol with the 28-20 victory.
Harlequins A were in fine form against Gloucester United at the Stoop, winning 22-8, with the experienced pair of Joe Gray and Karl Dickson both crossing the whitewash, along with Rosslyn Park’s Harry Hudson.
Gray and Dickson helping Quins to a 17-3 half time lead, along with seven points from the boot of fly half James Lang, before the game changed dramatically ten minutes into the second half as the former Dean Close fly half Lloyd Evans was sent off after an off-field incident with Lang.
Evans’ side rallied though, with fellow youngster Elliot Creed scoring a try, however when Hudson crossed for Quins after Matt Hopper’s quick penalty, the game was effectively wrapped up at 22-8 for the home side.
Aviva A League Round 2 Results:
Leicester Tigers A 31-29 Newcastle Falcons A
Wasps A 36-0 Sale Jets
Worcester Cavaliers 20-45 Northampton Wanderers
Bath United 20-28 Bristol United
Harlequins A 22-8 Gloucester United
Saracens Storm 27-17 Exeter Braves
Leicester Tigers A v Newcastle Falcons A
15 Harry Simmons, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Charlie Thacker, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 George Worth, 9 Jono Kitto, 1 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 Greg Bateman, 3 Fraser Balmain, 4 Harry Wells, 5 Sam Lewis, 6 Will Owen, 7 Harry Thacker (c), 8 Fred Tuilagi.
Replacements:16 Harry Mahoney, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Ben Betts, 19 Sam Grahamslaw, 20 Ben White, 21 Sam Yawayawa, 22 Jordan Olowofela, 23 Andy Brown.
15 Tom Catterick, 14 Dan Marshall, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Fred Burdon, 11 Zach Kibirige, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Sam Egerton; 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 Kyle Cooper, 3 Andrew Foster, 4 Andrew Davidson, 5 Nick Civetta, 6 David Nelson, 7 Max Davies, 8 Joshua Chisanga
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Piers Goodwill, 18 Joe Sproston, 19 Ed Falkingham, 20 Archie Erskine, 21 Sam Edgerley, 22 Brett Connon, 23 Adam Radwan
Wasps A v Sale Jets
15 Owain James, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Guy Armitage, 12 Nick De Luca, 11 Conor Dolan, 10 Connor Eastgate, 9 Craig Hampson, 1 Tom Bristow, 2 Sam James, 3 Will Stuart, 4 James Cannon, 5 Will Rowlands, 6 Sam Harry, 7 Jack Willis, 8 Marcus Garrett.
Replacements: 16 George Edgson, 17 Jarod Leat, 18 Camilo Parilli-Ocampo, 19 Ehize Ehizode, 20 Tom Willis, 21 Alex Smit, 22 Jacob Umaga, 23 Jay Heath.
15 Charlie Ingall, 14 George Peel, 13 Nick Scott, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Caetano Branco, 10 Tom Morton, 9 James Mitchell, 1 James Flynn, 2 Curtis Langdon, 3 Brian Mujati, 4 Lou Reed, 5 George Nott, 6 Ben Curry, 7 Andy Hughes, 8 Laurence Pearce.
Replacements: 16 Johnny Matthews, 17 Jake Pope, 18 Elliot Miller Mills, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Tom Curry, 21 Matt Rogerson, 22 Connor Dever, 23 Henry Hadfield.
Worcester Cavaliers v Northampton Wanderers
15 Basil Strange, 14 Jon Hughes, 13 Max Stelling, 12 Will Butler, 11 Alex Hearle, 10 Tiff Eden, 9 Alex Glashan, 1 Ryan Bower, 2 Jack Singleton , 3 Biyi Alo, 4 Andrew Kitchener, 5 Christian Scotland-Williamson, 6 Huw Taylor (c), 7 Zac Xiourouppa, 8 Tom Dodd.
Replacements: 16 Pip Dickinson, 17 Derrick Appiah, 18 Joe White, 19 Charlie Hewitt, 20 Ben Fowles, 21 Josh Nott, 22 Robbie Keith, 23 Jack Stapley.
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 Paul Hill, 4 Jordan Onojaife, 5 Alex Moon, 6 Calum Clark, 7 Lewis Ludlam, 8 Sion Bennett.
Replacements from: Reece Marshall, Gareth Denman, Matt Beesley, Adam Parkins, James Fish, Alex Rayment, Devante Onojaife, Tom Emery, James Grayson.
Bath United v Bristol United
15 Darren Atkins, 14 Harry Davies, 13 Aled Brew, 12 Rory Jennings (c), 11 Jeff Williams, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Will Homer, 1 Beno Obano, 2 Michael van Vuuren, 3 Max Lahiff, 4 Elliott Stooke, 5 Alex Humfrey, 6 Levi Douglas, 7 Josh Bayliss, 8 Mat Gilbert.
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre, 17 Will Vaughan, 18 Alex Wood, 19 Will Britton, 20 Alex Weighton, 21 Cameron Brown, 22 Levi Davis, 23 Liam Forsyth.
15 Luke Arscott, 14 Elias Caven, 13 Robbie Smith, 12 Nick Carpenter, 11 Maliq Holden, 10 Billy Searle, 9 Rhodri Williams, 1 Jack O’Connell, 2 Rob Hawkins, 3 James Hall, 4 Giorgi Nemsadze, 5 Sam Jeffries, 6 Nick Koster, 7 Nick Fenton-Wells (c), 8 Rayn Smid.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Taylor, 17 Ollie Dawe, 18 Craig Bachurzewksi, 19 John Hawkins, 20 BJ Edwards, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Robbie Forbes, 23 Blake Edwards.
Harlequins A v Gloucester United
15 Aaron Morris, 14 Ross Chisholm, 13 Alofa Alofa, 12 Matt Hopper (c), 11 Tim Visser, 10 James Lang, 9 Karl Dickson, 1 Owen Evans, 2 Joe Gray , 3 Adam Jones, 4 George Merrick, 5 Charlie Matthews, 6 Stan South, 7 Nathan Thomas, 8 George Naoupu.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Piper, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Matt Shields, 19 Harry Hudson, 20 Charlie Mulchrone, 21 Henry Cheeseman, 22 Sam Aspland-Robinson, 23 Robbie Nairn.
15 Mat Protheroe, 14 David Halaifonua, 13 Tom Hudson, 12 Elliott Creed, 11 Ben Vellacott, 10 Lloyd Evans, 9 Callum Braley (c), 1 Cameron Orr, 2 Greg Jackson, 3 Nicky Thomas, 4 Joe Batley, 5 Tom Denton, 6 Freddie Clarke, 7 Dan Thomas, 8 Charlie Beckett.
Replacements: 16 Will Haly, 17 Ciaran Knight, 18 Josh McNulty, 19 Alex Craig, 20 Harry Wilson, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Tom Seabrook, 23 Will Safe.
Saracens Storm v Exeter Braves
15 Matt Gallagher, 14 George Perkins, 13 Tim Streather (c), 12 Tom Griffiths, 11 Rotimi Segun, 10 Tom Whiteley, 9 Henry Taylor, 1 Richard Barrington, 2 Scott Spurling, 3 Titi Lamositele, 4 Mark Flanagan, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 6 Kelly Brown, 7 Ben Earl, 8 Samu Vunisa.
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Ralph Adams-Hale, 18 Billy Walker, 19 Byron Hodge, 20 Anthony Maka, 21 Neil De Kock, 22 Adam Fielder, 23 Alex Gliksten.
15 Ted Landry, 14 Matt Jess, 13 Pete Laverick, 12 Tom Hendrickson, 11 Max Bodilly, 10 Will Hooley, 9 Jack Maunder (c), 1 Carl Rimmer, 2 Elvis Taione, 3 Moray Low, 4 Sean Lonsdale, 5 Sam Skinner, 6 Tom Johnson, 7 Ben White, 8 Kai Horstmann.
Replacements: 16 Shaun Malton, 17 Marcus Street, 18 Elliott Roofe, 19 Dan Swain, 20 Tom Lawday, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Richard Bright, 23 Mike Hains.