It was the 5th Round of the U18 Academy League over the weekend, meaning that there are now just two rounds to go before the top 3 in each conference head to finals day on the 16th February.
In the Northern Conference it looks as though it is now a battle between five teams for those top three places, though one of them is almost certainly going to be claimed by the formidable Leicester Tigers outfit, meanwhile in the South it is looking likely to be a four horse race, although London Irish have already confirmed a minimum of a top three finish with a game in hand.
Leicester had a bye week this week, giving those below the only remaining unbeaten side in either conference a chance to narrow the gap. They did however take on the Southern Conference side with a bye, Saracens, beating them at Oakham School’s Doncaster Close.
In the League the key game was between Worcester Warriors and Newcastle Falcons, who sat in second and third place in the conference at the start of play at Sixways on Saturday. A cracking contest broke out, with so little to choose between the sides, but it was Worcester that came out on top, 22-19, staying in second and moving just three points behind Tigers while Newcastle slipped to fourth.
It was Sale Sharks that moved into third ahead of Newcastle, after they sealed a 19-14 victory over Yorkshire Carnegie at Manchester Met University on Sunday, leaving them four points off top but having played a game less. It was a decent display from Yorkshire Carnegie, earning them their second bonus point, but leaves them still without victory.
Northampton Saints hosted an inspired Wasps side at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday. Wasps sealed a stunning 52-15 victory that puts them firmly in the hunt for a top 3 finish.
London Irish extended their lead at the top of the table to an impressive seven points after their 46-19 victory away at Bristol Bears, a result that sends Bristol to the foot of the table on points difference. With just one game left for them to play, it seals a top 3 finish for London Irish, and more than likely a top 2 finish.
That is because they are eight points clear of third placed Bath, who also have one game left and therefore five to play for, who did London Irish’s hopes for a final place no harm by beating Harlequins in an absolute thriller on Saturday, winning 40-36 in a stunning game of rugby. It leaves Quins in fourth, two points behind Bath, three behind Saracens, and ten behind Saracens with ten left to play for.
The bottom of the table is as tight as can be, with Bristol, Gloucester, and Exeter Chiefs all on five points. That comes after Exeter picked up their first victory of the campaign on Saturday with a brilliant victory at Gloucester 29-5, the points difference from that lifting them from bottom of the table to fifth place in one afternoon.
Leicester Tigers could wrap up the northern conference if results go their way next week as they host second placed Worcester Warriors, meanwhile London Irish can move a step closer to sealing top spot in the south when they travel to Exeter Chiefs for their last game of the conference stage of the competition.
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U18 Academy League Round 5 Fixtures:
Northampton Saints 15-52 Wasps – Sat 18th Jan, 1.30pm, Franklin’s Gardens
Worcester Warriors 22-19 Newcastle Falcons – Sat 18th Jan, 4pm, Sixways
Sale Sharks 19-14 Yorkshire Carnegie – Sun 19th Jan, 2.30pm, Manchester Met Uni
Bristol Bears 19-46 London Irish – Sat 18th Jan, 12pm, Shaftesbury Park
Gloucester 5-29 Exeter Chiefs – Sat 18th Jan, 1.30pm, Newlands Park
Bath 40-36 Harlequins – Sat 18th Jan, 2pm, Wootton Bassett RFC
Leicester Tigers bt 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