It is Round 5 in the U18 Academy League this weekend as the race for a place at Finals Day nears its closing stages.
There are just three rounds remaining for teams to secure a place in the Top 3 of their conference, should they do that they will them head to Finals Day on Sunday 16th February, where the will face their counterpart from the other conference, top in the North playing top in the South in the main final.
This week presents a chance for the rest of the conference to close the gap on Leicester Tigers, who are the only unbeaten side in the league and are seven points clear at the top. Tigers have a bye week, though they will be facing Saracens in a friendly at Oakham School.
Sitting in second and third in the conference, with a game in hand over Leicester, are Worcester Warriors and Newcastle Falcons. They meet in a key game on Saturday afternoon at Sixways Stadium, where the winner will significantly close the gap on Saracens, while the losing side will come under real pressure from the chasing pack behind.
Chief among that chasing pack are Sale Sharks, who are level on points with Newcastle Falcons but have played a game more. Sale are not in action until Sunday afternoon, but they will fancy their chances of putting pressure on the sides above as they host a Yorkshire Carnegie side that are still searching for their first victory of the campaign.
Northampton Saints and Wasps are in fifth and six place respectively, Saints a point clear of Wasps but having played a game more. They meet on Saturday afternoon at Franklin’s Gardens, with a win for either helping them move towards that Top 3, especially for Wasps with that game in hand. Defeat though will leave the beaten side somewhat adrift and with a real challenge on their hands if they are to make Finals Day.
Saracens have the bye week in the Southern Conference at will be heading up to Oakham School to take on Leicester Tigers in a friendly, which means that regardless of results, London Irish will keep their place at the top of the conference.
London Irish will be heading to Bristol Bears on Saturday lunchtime for their game, Irish with a huge chance to extend their lead at the top of the conference beyond the two points that it currently stands at. However Bristol will be itching for the victory that would keep them right in the hunt for a place at finals day, with defeat likely to leave them with a real uphill battle.
It is a similar story for Gloucester, who had a bye last week, they will be feeling relatively confident as they host an Exeter Chiefs side that is yet to see victory. That in itself should be huge motivation for Exeter, as should the fact that victory could see them draw level with Gloucester and maybe Bristol too.
Harlequins and Bath are the two sides this weekend that can put the most pressure on London Irish, Quins are in third seven points behind the leaders, Bath a point and a place behind Quins, though having played a game more. On Saturday Quins make the trip to Bath in a game that really could be vital in determining which of the two is likely to be heading to finals day in a month’s time.
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U18 Academy League Round 5 Fixtures:
Northampton Saints v Wasps – Sat 18th Jan, 1.30pm, Franklin’s Gardens
Worcester Warriors v Newcastle Falcons – Sat 18th Jan, 4pm, Sixways
Sale Sharks v Yorkshire Carnegie – Sun 19th Jan, 2.30pm, Manchester Met Uni
Bristol Bears v London Irish – Sat 18th Jan, 12pm, Shaftesbury Park
Gloucester v Exeter Chiefs – Sat 18th Jan, 1.30pm, Newlands Park
Bath v Harlequins – Sat 18th Jan, 2pm, Wootton Bassett RFC
Leicester Tigers v Saracens – Saturday 18th Jan, 1pm, Oakham SChool
U18 Academy League Tables:
15 Egan Bronson, 14 Louis Martin, 13 Ethan Grayson, 12 Tom Litchfield, 11 Dani Long-Martinez, 10 Matt Arden, 9 Jake Garside, 1 Josh Cilia, 2 Callum Burns (c), 3 Jake Bridges, 4 Dan Makepeace, 5 Emeka Atunaya, 6 Lochlan Brown, 7 James Chalk, 8 Geordie Irvine.
Replacements: 16 Finn McCartney, 17 Leroy O’Neil, 18 Olly Frostick, 19 Tom Lockett, 20 Tom Heslop, 21 Brad Crane, 22 George Patten, 23 Gabe Jones.
15 Olly Hartley (Whitgift), 14 Luke Bray (RGS High Wycombe), 13 Toby Baldwin (Rugby), 12 Reketi Ma’asi-White (Harrow), 11 Scott Harman (City of Oxford College), 10 Charlie Atkinson (Abingdon, captain), 9 Ollie Monye (The Oratory), 1 Archie McArthur (City of Oxford College), 2 Dan Eckersley (Bloxham), 3 Max Morphey (City of Oxford College), 4 Alfie Bell (King Henry VIII, Coventry), 5 Fyn Brown (Shiplake College), 6 Jack English (Coventry College), 7 Kofi Cripps (Rugby), 8 Greg Fisilau (City of Oxford College).
Replacements: 16 Andy Petros (City of Oxford College), 17 James Coombs (Abingdon), 18 Isaac Kayada (Rugby), 19 Pietro Turrisi (City of Oxford College), 20 Aaron Florestein (Merchant Taylors), 21 Jack Hughes (Rugby), 22 Evan Mitchell (Finham Park), 23 Ollie Dawkins (RGS High Wycombe).
15 Fin Morgan, 14 Alex Evans, 13 Harry Spencer, 12 Sebastian Atkinson (c), 11 Tobi Wilson, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Ollie Wynn, 1 Ben Murphy, 2 Joe Richardson, 3 Mitch Reeve, 4 Imoesi Ogwemoh, 5 Charlie Hagen, 6 Ewan Guy, 7 Finlay Thomas, 8 Jack Forsythe.
Replacements: 16 Jon Lilley, 17 Ben Rowley, 18 Adam Lane, 19 Jack Lewis, 20 Tom Miles, 21 Isaac Wilding.
15 Tom Robinson, 14 Evan Lawther, 13 Thomas Moore, 12 Ewan Greenlaw, 11 Matty Ward, 10 James Blackett, 9 Ben Douglas, 1 Mark Dorman, 2 Owen Chaplin, 3 Phil Brantingham, 4 Henry Schmid, 5 Louis Peacock, 6 Marcus Tiffen, 7 Guy Pepper, 8 Rhys Tait.
Replacements: 16 Ollie Fletcher, 17 Matty Siddle, 18 Drew Thompson, 19 Ben Robson, 20 Owen Vassallo, 21 James Naylor, 22 Nathan Gough, 23 Michael Graham.
15 Sam Carleton, 14 Cameron Melville, 13 Elliot Gourlay, 12 Joe Bedlow, 11 Fraser Jones, 10 Patrick Bishop, 9 Nye Thomas, 1 Harris Fishwick, 2 Ethan Caine, 3 Corey Bowker, 4 Alfie Clark, 5 Nonso Agina, 6 Alastair Merrill, 7 John Bailey, 8 Ollie Leatherbarrow.
Replacements: 16 Pan Stylianou, 17 Tumy Onasanya, 18 Louis Fletcher, 19 Huw Davies, 20 Max Jackson, 21 Murray Redpath, 22 Josh Clarke, 23 Roma Zheng.
15 Harry Matthews, 14 Jack Cherry, 13 Obi Ene, 12 Joe Mounsey, 11 Finlay Stewart, 10 Theo Smerdon, 9 Will Metcalfe, 1 Ed Hasdell, 2 Ethan Myers, 3 Billy Addy, 4 Harry Gilson-Fox, 5 Olly Tomalin, 6 Cameron Briggs, 7 Jacob Head, 8 George Bennett-Teare.
Replacements: 16 Oscar Stott, 17 Ned Hawker, 18 Kobby Fofie, 19 Toby Boyce, 20 Oscar Lees, 21 Tom Parkin, 22 Will Barratt, 23 Tom Georgiou.
15 Benjy Joseland, 14 Deago Bailey, 13 Harry Rowson, 12 Tom Wilstead, 11 Ollie Holiday, 10 Jack Lloyd, 9 Cal Smith, 1 Andrew Turner, 2 Jalen Curry, 3 Aaron Thompson, 4 Spike Brain Jangen, 5 Charlie Rice, 6 Jamie Collier (c), 7 Mason Hughes, 8 Fergus Dick.
Replacements: 16 Tomas Gwilliam, 17 Tom Sims, 18 George Perry, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Soloman Taufua, 21 Angus Judkins, 22 Dylan Power, 23 Cam Scott.
15 Ben Fitzgerald, 14 Henry Arundell, 13 Will Joseph, 12 Niall McGann, 11 Finley Brown, 10 Monty Bradbury, 9 Rory Morgan, 1 Alessandro Heaney, 2 Joseph Vajner (c), 3 Joe Keohane, 4 Josh Taylor, 5 Sam Harding, 6 Lucas Brooke, 7 George Davis, 8 Marcus Rhodes.
Replacements: 16 Tarek Haffar, 17 Mikey Summerfield, 18 Michael Mason, 19 Edwin Zaimovic, 20 Ethan Pawadyira, 21 Dan Ormond, 22 Matt Barrett, 23 Jesper Hartikainen.
15 Goring, 14 Baron, 13 Shuttleworth, 12 Hillman-Cooper (cc), 11 Edwards-Giroud, 10 Humphreys, 9 Jones, 1 Tyson, 2 Veness, 3 Piercy, 4 Clark, 5 Sprague, 6 Williams, 7 Taylor (cc), 8 Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Hewitt, 17 Edwards, 18 C. Taylor, 19 Hamilton, 20 Scriven, 21 Gipson, 22 Adderly-Jones, 23 Howells.
15 Charlie Levick, 14 Billy Orchard, 13 Archie Hill, 12 Charlie McCaig, 11 Frankie Nowell, 10 Iwan Jenkins, 9 Tom Cairns (c), 1 Ethan Pearce-Cowley, 2 Harry Hocking, 3 Harry Wilkinson, 4 Barnaby Waddell, 5 Christ Tshiunza, 6 Milo Hallam, 7 Joe Elsworth, 8 Ben Grubb.
Replacements: 16 Oli Jeffrey, 17 Bailey Williams, 18 Nathan Karea, 19 Sam Leworthy, 20 Josh Pilkington, 21 Jack Carden, 22 Jason Capaldi.
15 Ethan Morgan, 14 Will Morris, 13 Bradley Law, 12 Will Fitz-Gerald, 11 Ethan Hawtin, 10 Orlando Bailey (c), 9 Tom Carr-Smith, 1 Archie Stanley, 2 John Stewart, 3 Archie Alexander, 4 Mackenzie Graham, 5 Ewan Richards, 6 Josh DIngley, 7 Tom Cowan, 8 Frankie Read.
Replacements: 16 Jasper Spandler, 17 Christian Freeman, 18 Charle Kantolinna, 19 Tom Ahl, 20 Theo Irving, 21 Oli Cook, 22 Oli De Glanville, 23 Nat Arnold.
15 Tusler, 14 Ojo, 13 Bradley, 12 Wyllie, 11 Cleaves, 10 Lynagh, 9 Bailey, 1 Ofori-Manteaw, 2 Staples, 3 Baxter, 4 Corbett, 5 Croy, 6 Timpson, 7 Alikhan, 8 Johnson.
Replacements: 16 Matthews, 17 Wilding, 18 Green, 19 Preen, 20 Potter, 21 Kolade, 22 Jeavons.
15 Jack Taylor, 14 Harry Sturmey, 13 Cormac Calnan, 12 Billy Hull (c), 11 Henry Joule, 10 Harry Read, 9 Jed Gelderbloom, 1 Dan Clements, 2 Tom Coton, 3 Tim Hoyt, 4 Callum Oakden, 5 Ant Pedlar, 6 Phil Tandoh, 7 Noah Leo, 8 Jay Ecclesfield.
Replacements: 16 Sam West, 17 Joe Plunkett, 18 Lynx Noumey, 19 Seb Smith, 20 Archie Benford, 21 Sam Westmacott, 22 Danny O’Reagan, 23 Charlie Titcombe, 24 Felix Martin, 25 Danny Meredith.
15 Francis Moore, 14 Dan Onochi Williams, 13 Josh Robsson Groom, 12 James Biss, 11 Craig-Chidera Anya-Joseph, 10 Luke McNally Drew, 9 Charles Favell, 1 Alfie Goater, 2 Charlie Galligan, 3 Terel Harry, 4 Kaden Pearce Paul, 5 Obinna Nkwocha, 6 Callum McGurk, 7 Reis Norman, 8 Matt Cannon.
Replacements: 16 Ehimen Osebor, 17 Sam Hargrove, 18 Zach Hill, 19 Theo Legrand, 20 Nathan Bispham, 21 Isaac Shaw, 22 Conor Moyse, 23 Seth Mokuolu.
U18 Academy League Results:
Leicester Tigers 25-12 Northampton Saints
Wasps 54-12 Yorkshire Carnegie
Sale Sharks 22-20 Worcester Warriors
Saracens 31-19 Exeter Chiefs
Bristol Bears 18-17 Bath
Gloucester 10-22 London Irish
Newcastle Falcons 42-24 Wasps
Yorkshire Carnegie 28-50 Northampton Saints
Sale Sharks 18-27 Leicester Tigers
Gloucester 36-25 Bristol Bears
London Irish 41-31 Harlequins
Bath 26-14 Saracens
Worcester Warriors 33-21 Wasps
Leicester Tigers 19-0 Newcastle Falcons
Northampton Saints 24-37 Sale Sharks
Harlequins 41-15 Gloucester
London Irish 28-34 Saracens
Exeter Chiefs 7-22 Bath
Yorkshire Carnegie 17-28 Leicester Tigers
Northampton Saints 19-36 Worcester
Newcastle Falcons 29-22 Sale Sharks
London Irish 29-17 Bath
Harlequins 21-12 Exeter Chiefs
Saracens 29-12 Bristol Bears
U18 Academy League Fixtures
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors – Sat 25th Jan, 12pm, Oval Park
Yorkshire Carnegie v Newcastle Falcons – Sat 25th Jan, 12.30pm, Selby
Wasps v Sale Sharks – Sat 25th Jan, 1pm, Ricoh Arena
Exeter Chiefs v London Irish – Sat 25th Jan, 12.30pm, Truro College
Bristol Bears v Harlequins – Sat 25th Jan, 1pm, Combination Ground
Saracens v Gloucester – Sat 25th Jan, 1pm, Allianz Park
Wasps v Leicester Tigers – Sat 8th Feb, 1pm, Aylesbury RFC
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints – Sat 8th Feb, 2pm, Kingston Park
Worcester Warriors v Yorkshire Carnegie – Sat 8th Feb, 2pm, Sixways
Harlequins v Saracens – Sat 8th Feb, 1.30pm, Surrey Sports Park
Bath v Gloucester – Sat 8th Feb, 2pm, Millfield School
Exeter Chiefs v Bristol Bears – Sat 8th Feb, 2pm, Truro College
Finals Day – Sunday 16th February