Round 5 of the Premiership Rugby U18 Academy League was a thriller, with some unbelievably competitive games in both the North and the South Pool helped to set up an enthralling final two rounds of action.
In both conferences the race for top spot and a place in the final is still up for grabs. There is a week’s rest coming up that is going to be vital as teams recoup and prepare for a crucial Round 6 on the 5th/6th February, where the only remaining unbeaten sides, Harlequins and Bristol Bears, go head to head in what could be a defining game.
To the present though, and a thrilling 5th round of action that included a couple of nail-biters:
Images thanks to NickBImages (@nickbimages)
Round 5 Results
North (Leicester Tigers Bye Week)
Newcastle Falcons 31-10 Worcester Warriors
Wasps 32-45 Northampton Saints
Yorkshire Academy 16-17 Sale Sharks
Newcastle Falcons picked up exactly where they left off last week, beating the previously unbeaten Sale Sharks and then on Saturday backing up with a 31-10 victory over Worcester Warriors. It’s a key victory that lifts them from near the foot of the table right up into third place, and with two games coming, there could yet be more climbing to be done.
Northampton Saints certainly hope so, they won an absolute thriller against Wasps, 45-32 to keep them above their hosts and to within two points of the Pool leaders, Sale Sharks. They have just one game left to leapfrog the leaders and get a place in the final though as they have a 6th round by before hosting Newcastle Falcons in what could be a huge head to head if the Falcons keep their form.
Sale Sharks stay at the top of the table, recovering from last week’s defeat to secure a victory at Yorkshire Academy on Sunday, but they were made to work oh so hard for it. A narrow 17-16 victory after a seriously gritty display from Yorkshire who must be gutted not yet to have picked up a victory despite their strong efforts. They have Newcastle and Worcester to come, while if Sale want to secure top spot they have just one huge game to do it in, against Wasps next time out, as they have a bye in the final round.
South (Saracens Bye Week)
Exeter Chiefs 17-14 Gloucester
Harlequins 31-21 Bath
London Irish 14-27 Bristol Bears
Exeter Chiefs picked up their first victory of the campaign in a really tense battle with Gloucester, who were also chasing a first win. The Chiefs sealed it 17-14 and will now be relishing trips to London Irish and Bristol Bears, who could well be needing a victory to seal a place in the final in that game.
Harlequins are also chasing that place in the final, they made it four from four in a cracking game against an in form Bath side on Saturday. Quins sealed it 31-21, setting up for that crucial tie at home to Bristol Bears in a fortnight’s time, followed by a trip to their great rivals, Saracens, in the final round – another side that could get in on the top of the table action
Bristol Bears’ unbeaten run continues as well as they travelled to London Irish and secured a very impressive 27-14 victory. London Irish might not have been racking up huge numbers of victories but they have been such a hard side to break down, 27-14 in the context looks mightily impressive from Bristol ahead of those games against Harlequins and Exeter Chiefs, it’s going to be a cracking finish in the South!
15 Ben Redshaw, 14 Nathan Greenwood, 13 Jez Civil, 12 Will Hindle, 11 Jake Metcalfe, 10 Harry Williams, 9 Ben Douglas, 1 Micky Rewcastle, 2 Charlie Smith, 3 Morgan Hall, 4 Luke Coulston (c), 5 Ayden Knott, 6 Braemar Murray, 7 Ewan Venerus, 8 Zach Oldham.
Replacements: 16 Ben Wright, 17 Isaac Keller, 18 Sam Birkbeck, 19 Finn Baker, 20 Will Murray, 21 Freddie Nickalls, 22 Tom Burton, 23 Toby Ferguson.
15 Dan Chambers (Stourport High), 14 Oli Smith (Hartpury College), 13 Jack Kinder (Solihull), 12 Will Pugh (Stourport High), 11 Billy Emerick (Stourport High), 10 Jack Condliffe (Stourport High), 9 Alex Terry (King’s Worcester), 1 Lewys Walsh (Hartpury College), 2 Loic Keasey (RGS Worcester), 3 Will Couch (Hartpury College), 4 Will Chater (King’s Worcester), 5 Harvey Cuckson (Ellesmere College), 6 Sam Hawes (King’s Worcester), 7 Owen Boxall (Bishop Vesey’s Grammar), 8 Theo Mayell (Monmouth, captain).
Replacements: 16 Ethan Allen (Stourport High), 17 Ellis Locke (Stourport High), 18 Aaron Hackett (Stourport High), 19 George Boyle (King’s Worcester), 20 Will Owen (Ellesmere College), 21 Sammy Erskine (KES Stratford), 22 Billy McDonough (Bromsgrove), 23 Archie Jones (Stourport High), 24 Mikey Yalland (Stourport High).
15 B Kucera, 14 E Rokodrava, 13 R Sweeting, 12 J Annand, 11 W Glister, 10 C Mason, 9 M Winterburn, 1 A O’Driscoll, 2 K Jones, 3 A Opoku-Fordjour, 4 C Bell, 5 B McDermott, 6 R Logan, 7 W Blakesley-Grimes, 8 B Pogson.
Replacements: 16 H Silman, 17 C Aitchison, 18 R Marsh, 19 L McGowan, 20 Z Newcombe, 21 S Browning, 22 C Myall, 23 S Sinclair.
15 Jody Devine (Samuel Whitbread Academy), 14 Ethan Thorne (St Joseph’s College), 13 Toby Cousins (Oakham), 12 Archie Kean (Royal Hospital School), 11 Frankie Sleightholme (Northampton School for Boys), 10 Tommy Taylor (Rugby), 9 Kieran Gilmour (Rugby), 1 Sam Ferrari (Samuel Whitbread), 2 Craig Wright (Felsted), 3 Nicholas Tarr (Mark Rutherford), 4 James Bennett (Bedford), 5 George Lavender (Colchester RGS), 6 Ted Reid (Colchester RGS), 7 Henry Pollock (Stowe), 8 George Patten (Northampton School for Boys, captain).
Replacements: 16 Aston Gradwick-Light (Rugby), 17 Lucas Nesbitt-Hadaway (Ipswich), 18 Will Lamprell (Ipswich), 19 Josh Weru (Rugby), 20 Levi Wilson (St Joseph’s College), 21 Harry Hall (Ipswich), 22 Oscar Bennett (Bedford), 23 Will Brock (Bedford).
15 B Turpin, 14 G Worthington, 13 B Horberry, 12 J Howells, 11 N McCormack, 10 J Harris (c), 9 B Parkin, 1 A Medway, 2 L Inman, 3 P Parker, 4 T Peach, 5 E Smith, 6 J Billington, 7 J Freeman, 8 O Drew.
Replacements: 16 J Briggs, 17 B Spruyt, 18 T Raymont, 19 H Willard, 20 G Heptinstall, 21 D Talakai, 22 O Aston.
15 Charlie Wardle, 14 Owain Williams, 13 Al Whitfield, 12 Ben Motamed, 11 Joe Finnegan, 10 Finn Rogers, 9 Will Wootton, 1 Jack Ellam, 2 Charlie Bancroft, 3 Patreece Bell, 4 Paddy Jones, 5 Huw Davies (c), 6 Tom Campbell, 7 Tristan Woodman, 8 Will Riley.
Replacements: 16 Rorio Zheng, 17 George Arnold, 18 Theo Bishop, 19 Ellis Causey, 20 James Legg, 21 Niall Povall, 22 Henry Harper, 23 Efan Edwards.
15 Charlie Groves, 14 Jack Statton, 13 Zack Wimbrush, 12 George Edson, 11 Dan Hamilton-Strong, 10 Nat Dart, 9 Joe Walker, 1 Rowan Lawrence, 2 Pete Harris, 3 Tom Gulley, 4 Ed Spurway, 5 Joe Bailey (c), 6 Will Saltmarsh, 7 Seth Findlay, 8 Barnaby Elderkin.
Replacements: 16 Jack Ballett, 17 Callum Arnold, 18 Archie Rolls, 19 Jake Salvi, 20 Charlie Parr, 21 Max Fergusson, 22 Ben Coen, 23 Jude Baker-Hands.
15 Ioan Jones (Dean Close), 14 Max Knight (Hartpury College), 13 Tom Riman (Cheltenham College), 12 Tom Samak (Hartpury College), 11 Ty Lewis (Hartpury College), 10 Keillen Cullen (Hartpury College, captain), 9 Joe Adams (Hartpury College), 1 Tyler Harvey (Park House), 2 Casey Williams (Hartpury College), 3 Henry Pearson (Hartpury College), 4 Rhys Ford (Hartpury College), 5 Mikey Nixon (Sir Thomas Rich’s), 6 Sam Anson (Cleeve), 7 Freddie Stevens (Hartpury College), 8 Tom Worts (Hartpury College).
Replacements: 16 Will Hurn (Sir Thomas Rich’s), 17 George Merritt (Dean Close), 18 Sam Vince (Hartpury College), 19 Jack Hall (John Kyrle), 20 Ben Peters (Dean Close), 21 Archie Hossack (Hartpury College), 22 Nathan Thomson-Lee (Hartpury College).
15 Josh Bellamy (Trinity), 14 Guy Rogers (Gordon’s), 13 Ben Waghorn (John Fisher), 12 Ludo Kolade (King’s Canterbury), 11 Ethan Knight (Hampton), 10 Sean Kerr (Whitgift), 9 Murdoch Lock (Wellington College), 1 Ethan Clark (Worthing College), 2 Jack Doorey-Palmer (Worthing College), 3 Caleb Ashworth (Gordon’s), 4 Jonny Green (Seaford College), 5 Tom Golder (Gordon’s), 6 Harry Browne (Brighton College), 7 Seb Driscoll (Whitgift), 8 Jonathan Smith (Brighton College).
Replacements: 16 Will Ayton (Wellington Collge), 17 Tosin Teriba (Gordon’s), 18 Claudius Wheeler (St Paul’s), 19 Zach Carr (Dulwich College), 20 Charlie Clare (Brighton College), 21 Conor Byrne (Trinity), 22 Amir Sultan-Edwards (Millfield).
15 James Redman, 14 Byron Lloyd-Gilmour, 13 Will Parry, 12 Sam Harris (cc), 11 Max Ashton, 10 Raff Weston, 9 Ieuan Davies, 1 Eric Nixon-Castillo, 2 Max Pearce, 3 Billy Sela, 4 Eddie Erskine, 5 Max Jenkins, 6 Jack Haythornthwaite, 7 George Timmins, 8 Arthur Green (cc).
Replacements: 16 Tommy McLean, 17 Scott Kirk, 18 Jaden Ephgrave, 19 Abdul-Khalik Akenzua Al Kareem, 20 Harvey Matthews, 21 Ollie Byrne, 22 Rory Crum, 23 Kamoto Kamanga-Dyrbak.
15 George Cubitt-Makepeace (Henley College), 14 Sam Rockley (Bishop Wand), 13 Alex Enright (Bishop Wand), 12 Connor Cross (Hampton), 11 Oscar Daniel (Mill Hill), 10 Rory Taylor (Wellington College), 9 Ollie Allan (Bishop Wand), 1 Oran Murphy (Hinchley Wood), 2 Rhys Day (Epsom College), 3 Afolabi Fasogbon (Bishop Wand), 4 Connor O’Byrne (Wellington College), 5 Jarlaith Gleeson (City of London Freemen’s), 6 Will Dempster (Claire’s Court), 7 Louie Kirkham (Bishop Wand, captain), 8 Oliver Stirling (Harrow).
Replacements: 16 Thierry White (Wellington College), 17 Kassim Dawud (Bishop Wand), 18 Tolii Reeves-Hall (Bishop Wand), 19 Roman Barton-Knott (Bishop Wand), 20 Oscar Grantham (Bishop Wand), 21 Matt Salisbury (Bishop Wand), 22 Solomon Arbuthnot-Whittaker (Wellington College).
15 Sam Hamid, 14 Gabe Lacey, 13 Henry Hawkins, 12 Lucas Berti, 11 Tom Ormsby, 10 Sam Worsley, 9 Rhys Price, 1 Louis Trevett, 2 James Randall, 3 Jimmy Halliwell, 4 Ollie Thraves, 5 Paddy Pearce, 6 Aaron Tull (c), 7 Sasha Potapenkov, 8 Ed Harvey.
Replacements: 16 George Davey, 17 Billy Marsden, 18 Billy Moran, 19 Myles Langley, 20 Charlie Cox, 21 Pete Carter, 22 Isaac Campbell-Wu, 23 Jake Smith.
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Round 4 Results:
Leicester Tigers 37-14 Yorkshire Academy
Sale Sharks 12-26 Newcastle Falcons
Worcester Warriors 27-24 Northampton Saints
Wasps – Bye
Bath 19-14 London Irish
Bristol Bears 36-31 Saracens
Exeter Chiefs 24-29 Harlequins
Gloucester – Bye
Round 3 Results:
Newcastle Falcons 24-27 Leicester Tigers
Sale Sharks 45-19 Northampton Saints
Wasps 14-24 Worcester Warriors
Yorkshire Academy – Bye
Bath 26-12 Exeter Chiefs
Gloucester 12-47 Harlequins
Saracens 17-14 London Irish
Bristol Bears – Bye
Round 2 Results:
Leicester Tigers 15-33 Sale Sharks
Northampton Saints 36-19 Yorkshire Academy
Wasps 20-14 Newcastle Falcons
Worcester Warriors – Bye
Bristol Bears 25-3 Gloucester
Harlequins 21-17 London Irish
Saracens 39-12 Bath
Exeter Chiefs – Bye
Round 1 Results:
Northampton Saints 36-22 Leicester Tigers
Worcester Warriors 13-40 Sale Sharks
Yorkshire Academy 0-36 Wasps
Newcastle Falcons – Bye
Bath 12-27 Bristol Bears
Exeter Chiefs 12-46 Saracens
London Irish 41-17 Gloucester
Harlequins – Bye
Newcastle Falcons v Yorkshire Academy – Saturday 5th Feb, 2pm, Kingston Park
Sale Sharks v Wasps – Sunday 6th Feb, time TBC, Manchester Met Uni
Worcester Warriors v Leicester Tigers, Saturday 5th Feb, 2pm, Sixways
Northampton Saints – Bye
Harlequins v Bristol Bears – Saturday 5th Feb, 2pm, Cobham RFC
Gloucester v Saracens – Saturday 5th Feb, 2pm, Cheltenham Tigers
London Irish v Exeter Chiefs – Saturday 5th Feb, 1.30pm, Hazelwood
Bath – Bye
Leicester Tigers v Wasps – Saturday 12th Feb 5pm, Welford Road
Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons – Saturday 12th Feb, 2pm, Franklin’s Gardens
Yorkshire Academy v Worcester Warriors – Saturday 12th Feb, 2pm, Doncaster Knights
Sale Sharks – Bye
Bristol Bears v Exeter Chiefs – Saturday 12th Feb, Dings Crusaders
Gloucester v Bath – Saturday 12th Feb, 2pm, Kingsholm
Saracens v Harlequins – Saturday 12th Feb, 1pm, StoneX
London Irish – Bye
Finals Day: Saturday/Sunday 19th/20th February – Venue TBC (7 games)