Stepping Up: Spotlight on U21 Players in Round 13 of the Gallagher Premiership

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Coach Logic

Continuing our series looking at the U21 Players that featured in the Gallagher Premiership, today we look at what happened in Round 13.

As we edge towards the business end of the season, a few teams seem to be favouring more experienced players but it is encouraging to see some teams such as Leicester continuing to back their young players and being rewarded with quality performances and results. With no relegation, it will be fascinating to see how this game time affects player development and their involvements next season.

Exeter vs Harlequins

Richard Capstick – Back row

Capstick came off the bench in the 62nd minute for Jacques Vermeulen and slotted in well as his team ground out a win against an in form Quins side. The former Exeter College player’s tackling stood out especially as they stopped Quins in the dying minutes.

Newcastle vs Bath

Ethan Staddon – Back row

Former Beechen Cliff student, Staddon came on with just 10 minutes left in what was a dominant Bath performance. He didn’t look out of place and brought energy in defence with a nice tackle and awareness to hold up the Newcastle ball carrier over the line and end the game.

Northampton vs Sale

JJ Tonks – Back row

Ollie Sleightholme – Wing

Tommy Freeman – Wing

A young Saints side came away with a highly impressive win against a strong Sale team with the majority of their starters coming from the academy. Tommy Freeman was moved from fullback to wing this week and showed off his attacking talent with a couple of clean breaks. The former Moulton College student came within inches of scoring after picking an excellent line to scythe through the Sale defence. After last week’s showing, Sleightholme, once of Northampton School for Boys, was unfortunate to be carded early after repeated team penalties and couldn’t quite assert himself as he has done in previous matches but did look for work to get himself involved later in the contest.

JJ Tonks, formerly of Hartpury College, was brought on early in the 2nd half after an injury to Ludlam and will be unhappy to have given away a couple of penalties but otherwise contributed with his tackling and overall defensive work. Chris Boyd’s confidence in his youngsters was displayed further as performers Hutchinson and Mallinder remained on the bench for the entire game.

Bevan Rodd – Loosehead prop

Raffi Quirke – Scrum half

Tom Roebuck – Wing

All 3 Sale players started on the bench this week with Rodd coming on early in the 2nd half. The Sedbergh graduate tackled well but struggled at times against the slightly more experienced Paul Hill in the scrum. Quirke (St Ambrose College) again brought energy off the bench for De Klerk, helping the Sharks score with 15 minutes left. Marked as one to watch in this year’s England U20s side, Tom Roebuck displayed his pace and footwork to beat 3 defenders but otherwise the former Wirral Grammar School man had limited opportunities as his team kept the ball tight to try to grind out a win late.

Gloucester vs Leicester

Jack Clement – Back row

George Barton – Fly half

Jake Morris – Wing

In a game packed with young talent, Tigers came out on top. Barton (Dean Close) continued his streak of games while Jake Morris (Hartpury College) made his first Premiership start for the club. Barton again showed composure as he put Carreras through on the wing as well converting both of Gloucester’s tries.  Morris unfortunately didn’t get many chances on his wing but did show nice pace and effort to reclaim a kick off. Clement (Cheltenham College) was subbed on for Jordy Reid early in the 2nd half and put himself about on both sides of the ball in the loose but ultimately it wasn’t enough for his team.

Ollie Chessum – Back Row

Jack Van Poortvliet – Scrum half

Dan Kelly – Centre

Freddie Steward – Fullback

Dan Kelly (Kirkham Grammar) scored his first try for Tigers in a slightly unconventional manner as he managed to get his hands on the ball at the back of a maul as it drove towards the line. The Irish age grade international showed excellent defensive awareness at times as well as ability with the ball in hand. Steward (Norwich School) had a mixed day at the office with some nice running from the back but will be slightly disappointed with his play under the high ball. 

Chessum (Carre’s Grammar) came on at blindside and looked a real prospect, offering a quality option in the line out and maul and topped it off with some nice carrying. Van Poortvliet (Oakham) looks settled as an ideal finisher at scrum half with the experienced Wigglesworth starting but didn’t have many opportunities to show off his skillset as Gloucester pushed hard towards the end of the game.

London Irish vs Worcester

Ben Donnell – Back row

The ex-Peter Symonds College player was involved off the bench for Irish in his familiar position at blindside flanker. Irish were up against it for much of the 2nd half with a yellow card for Nick Phipps making things even tougher as Worcester threw everything they had at them. Donnell clocked up an impressive 11 tackles in his cameo and looks increasingly like a reliable option despite his age.

In a tight game, unfortunately Will Joseph (Millfield) and Fin Smith (Warwick School) of Worcester didn’t make it off the bench for their teams.

NextGenXV are working alongside the Alred Trophy, a competition designed to identify Britain & Ireland’s best young kicker. You can read all about it here: Alred Trophy All You Need To Know – and make sure that you head over to to sign up for your chance to be crowned best young kicker!

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