The grounds are ice cold and snow has fallen across the North of England, but Round 5 of the Premiership Rugby U18 Academy League is full steam ahead!
It’s set to be a fantastic round of action with games at the top end of both conferences, which remain very much in the balance with three rounds to go as teams jostle for top spot in each conference and a place in the final.
The North conference could really shake up this week with Northampton Saints and Midlands Central going head to head on Saturday, while Newcastle Falcons will look to get into the mix as they head to Midlands West, who are seeking a first victory. So too Yorkshire Academy, who head to Manchester to take on Sale Sharks on Sunday.
In the South Bristol Bears v London Irish looks key in a conference with just six points separating 1st from 5th. Meanwhile Gloucester host Exeter Chiefs with each side looking for a first victory, and Bath host Harlequins in a game that will see the winners very much in the mix for top spot and the losers just clinging on a little.
Round 5 Fixtures and Team News (Saturday 21st January)
Midlands West v Newcastle Falcons (2pm, Malvern College)
Midlands West are looking for a first victory of the campaign as they host Newcastle Falcons at Malvern College, but Newcastle are going to be a tough opponent, having won both games since the league’s restart at the turn of the year. The Midlands side have made just two changes to the side that lost to Northampton Saints last time out, both changes see Malvern College players get a run out on home turf, Tom Hilton comes in at second row with Cameron Smith coming in on the left wing, Bromsgrove scrum half Billy McDonough will have the captaincy. Newcastle Falcons make changes too for the first time this calendar year after back to back victories. Lucas Rowell of Gosforth Academy switches from the left wing to the right, with Sedbergh’s Tom Burton promoted from the bench to play on the left, while Durham’s Callum Brown comes in at inside centre. Up front Brown’s schoolmate Sam Graham comes in at loosehead, with RGS Newcastle’s Tom Cressey in on the blindside flank.
15 Charlie Whorrod (Warwick), 14 George Bennett (Stourport High), 13 Matty Walker (Bromsgrove), 12 Frankie Jefferies (Malvern College), 11 Cameron Smith (Malvern College), 10 Jack Condliffe (Stourport High), 9 Billy McDonough (Bromsgrove, captain), 1 Will Conduit (Stourport College), 2 Loic Keasey (RGS Worcester), 3 Emmanuel Olaleye (Old Swinford Hospital), 4 Warwick Archer (Hereford 6th form College), 5 Tom Hilton (Malvern College), 6 Luka Jansen van Vuuren (Malvern College), 7 Sam Hawes (King’s Worcester), 8 Zach Armstrong (Bromsgrove).
Replacements: 16 George Knowles (Hereford Cathedral), 17 Jacob Tomkinson (Old Swinford Hospital), 18 Max Truby (Old Swinford Hospital), 19 Finton Dowling (KES Birmingham), 20 Charlie Bemand (Stourport High), 21 George Tomlinson (King’s Worcester), 22 Ellis Deans-Smith (Hartpury College).
15 Ben Redshaw (Sedbergh), 14 Lucas Rowell (Gosforth Academy), 13 Dan Stephenson (RGS Newcastle),12 Callum Brown (Durham), 11 Tom Burton (Sedbergh), 10 Dan Woodcock (Cockermouth), 9 Joe Davis (Barnard Castle), 1 Isaac Keller (Gosforth Academy), 2 Jacob Oliver (Barnard Castle, captain), 3 Sam Graham (Durham), 4 Connor Bowran (Gosforth Academy), 5 Finn Baker (Sedbergh), 6 Tom Cressey (RGS Newcastle),7 Archie Fletcher (Newcastle School for Boys), 8 Lewis Richardson (Gosforth Academy).
Replacements: 16 Ryan Shaw (Gosforth Academy), 17 Chris Johnsone (KES Morpeth), 18 Sam Kirkman (Gosforth Academy), 19 Riley Thwaites (Aspatria), 20 Kane James (Sedbergh), 21 Nicko Sykes (Newcastle School for Boys), 22 Harry Rickard (Barnard Castle), 23 Scott Rochester (Durham).
Northampton Saints v Midlands Central (3.30pm, Franklin’s Gardens)
This game is going to be crucial in the Northern Conference. After Round 3 Midlands Central topped the table, but a bye week last week saw Saints leapfrog them with that magnificent victory over Midlands West, now the two go head to head with top spot again up for grabs. Saints are unchanged in the backline from that victory last time out, but have to changes in the forwards, Stowe’s Henri Burditt moving from second row to number 8 with Wisbech Grammar’s Ashton Webb coming in, while Rugby’s Dave Bennett comes in at tighthead. Midlands Central’s last run out was a tight victory at Midlands West in Round 3 and they have changed a couple since then. Rugby’s Ryan Sweeting returns to captain the side from outside centre and the only change in the backline from that game a fortnight ago is St Edward’s Oxford’s Oliver Sedgwick coming in on the right wing. Up front it’s as you were for that game against Midlands West.
15 Ewan Baker (Stowe), 14 Ben Radnor (Samuel Whitbread), 13 Harry Simpson (Ipswich), 12 Ollie Saddleton (Ipswich), 11 Toby Cousins (Oakham), 10 Rory Hollis (Ipswich), 9 Archie McParland (Stowe), 1 Lucas Nisbett-Hadaway (Ipswich), 2 Sol Moody (Finborough), 3 Dave Bennett (Rugby), 4 Aiden Kabi (Oundle), 5 Ashton Webb (Wisbech Grammar), 6 Mart van der Veen (Ipswich), 7 Henry Pollock (Stowe, captain), 8 Henri Burditt (Stowe).
Replacements: 16 Yujian Zou (The Perse), 17 Oliver Scola (Northampton School for Boys), 18 Tom Dye (Ipswich), 19 Kieran Perkins (Bedford Modern), 20 Robert Gaffan (Rugby), 21 Billy Pasco (Oundle), 22 Jacob Willmott (Samuel Whitbread, 23 Logan McCabe (Moulton College).
15 Dan Barnett (Berkhamsted), 14 Oliver Sedgwick (St Edward’s, Oxford), 13 Ryan Sweeting (Rugby, captain), 12 Charlie Myall (City of Oxford College), 11 Will Glister (City of Oxford College), 10 Charlie Mason (St Edward’s, Oxford), 9 Max Blinkhorn (Warwick), 1 Jacob Yates (Warwick), 2 Ben Pogson (City of Oxford College), 3 Sam Scott (City of Oxford College), 4 Charlie Bell (Bablake & King Henry VIII), 5 Charlie Moss (Shiplake College), 6 Reuben Logan (Berkhamsted), 7 John Baldwin (Bloxham), 8 Felix Hunt (Bloxham).
Repalcements: 16 Beau Delaney (City of Oxford College), 17 Cameron Aitchison (City of Oxford College), 18 Jack Tchape (RGS High Wycombe), 19 Ethan Surrey (City of Oxford College), 20 Harry English (City of Oxford College), 21 Reuben Elias (City of Oxford College), 22 Thomas Cunningham (Magdalen College), 23 Darcy Bunce (City of Oxford College). TRs: George Pearson (City of Oxford College), Lasga Asatiani-Kalandadze (Bishop Vesey’s Grammar).
Sale Sharks v Yorkshire Academy (Sunday, 1pm, Manchester Met Uni)
Sunday’s game sees Yorkshire Academy head to Sale looking for a first victory, while victory for Sale would just about keep them in the hunt. Sale have yet to announce their side, but Yorkshire Academy have named theirs, and make a few changes from the side that lost to Leicester Tigers last time out. Tommy Carswell comes in on the left wing, with Seb Easterby-Gray in at hooker and Anthony McCormack in the second row, with Oliver Barker moving from the second row to number 8.
Sale Sharks – TBA
15 Ned McCormack, 14 Tommy Carswell, 13 Louis Worrall, 12 Lloyd McEwan-Peters, 11 Cosimo Beveridge, 10 Louie Platt, 9 Toby Morley (vc), 1 Leon Mudd, 2 Seb Easterby-Gray, 3 Tye Raymont, 4 Tom Burrow (c), 5 Anthony McCormack, 6 Matthew Leatham, 7 Jonny Freeman, 8 Oliver Barker.
Replacements: 16 Alfie Longstaff, 17 Oliver Fretwell, 18 Ashley Lockwood, 19 Henry Du Boulay, 20 Archie Hurford, 21 Charlie Borchard, 22 Charlie Metcalf, 23 Matthew Saxby.
Bath v Harlequins (2pm, The Rec)
This feels a crucial one in the South, victory and either side is still very much in the mix for a place in the final. Defeat, and that starts looking difficult. The setting could hardly be better, The Rec on a crisp Saturday afternoon, and the home side are unchanged from the starting XV that inflicted a first defeat on the season on London Irish last time out. Harlequins had a storming victory over Exeter Chiefs last time out and have kept their changes to a minimum too, Trinity’s Will Peart-Smith returns on the openside flank after missing last week’s victory, the only change to that side.
15 Charlie Brook (Marlborough College), 14 Will Dudman (Beechen Cliff), 13 James Short (Beechen Cliff), 12 Rory Crum (Beechen Cliff), 11 Henry Bartlett (Beechen Cliff), 10 Raff Weston (Beechen Cliff), 9 Ieuan Davies (Millfield), 1 Ioan Emanuel (Millfield), 2 Kacey Pike (Beechen Cliff), 3 Billy Sela (Beechen Cliff), 4 Rory Cameron (Beechen Cliff), 5 Jack Bennett (Monkton Combe), 6 Arthur Moore (Clayesmore), 7 George Timmins (Millfield), 8 Connor Treacey (Beechen Cliff, captain).
Replacements: 16 Henry Bonetti (Millfield), 17 Harry Love (Beechen Cliff), 18 Leo Palmer (Kingswood), 19 Oliver Branagan (Bishop Wordsworth’s), 20 Charlie Ward (Kingswood), 21 Ollie Byrne (Beechen Cliff), 22 James Linegar (Kingswood), 23 Will Howells (Prior Park College).
15 Conor Byrne (Trinity), 14 Tom Humphreys (RGS Guildford), 13 Frank McMillan (Bhavsic), 12 Sean Kerr (Whitgift), 11 Jack Thomas (Churcher’s College), 10 Josh Bellamy (Trinity), 9 Lucas Friday (Trinity), 1 Richard Twitchen (Seaford College), 2 Jimmy Staples (Seaford College), 3 Jamie Miller (Whitgift), 4 Theo Currie (Gordon’s), 5 Hal Kennedy (Emanuel), 6 Ronan Daniell (Hurstpierpoint College) 7 Will Peart-Smith (Trinity), 8 Lucas Schmid (Epsom College).
Replacements: 16 Isaac Buck (Cardinal Newman), 17 Enock Addai (Gordon’s), 18 Kane Fleary (Trinity), 19 Roma Matebalavu (Trinity), 20 Matt Wickham (Reigate Grammar), 21 Kit Temperley (Epsom College), 22 Jack Anstey (Cranleigh).
Bristol Bears v London Irish (7.30pm, Dings Crusaders)
Bristol Bears v London Irish looks crucial, two sides that have been top of the pile and that have a chance to get back there with victory on Saturday evening. Bristol Bears were just edged out by Saracens last time but don’t make too many changes. SGS Filton College’s Jamie Wood is promoted from the bench to the right wing, while Clifton College’s Jacob Mitchell comes in at inside centre. Up front SGS Filton College’s Harry O’Donnell gets a start at loosehead, while schoolmate Archie Prewett comes in at number 8 with Clifton College’s Tom Gardner moving to the openside flank. London Irish are yet to name their side.
15 Jake Smith (Collegiate), 14 Jamie Wood (SGS Filton College), 13 Isaac Campbell-Wu (Clifton College), 12 Jacob Mitchell (Clifton College), 11 Tom Ormsby (Redland Green), 10 Eamonn Rogers (Clifton College), 9 Sam Morton-Smith (Hartpury College), 1 Harry O’Donnell (SGS Filton College), 2 Oscar Simms-Preston (SGS Filton College), 3 George Payne (Clifton College), 4 Ollie Thraves (QEH), 5 Ollie Russell (Clifton College), 6 Joe Wooler (Hartpury College, captain), 7 Tom Gardner (Clifton College), 8 Archie Prewett (SGS Filton College).
Replacements: 16 Arthur Davis (SGS Filton College), 17 Louie Trevett (Clifton College), 18 Louis White (Collegiate), 19 Rowan Curry (Richard Huish), 20 Sonny Davis (SGS Filton College), 21 Ted Phillips (Clifton College), 22 Fin Fielder (Clifton College), 23 Josh Sheppard (SGS Filton College).
London Irish – TBA
Gloucester v Exeter Chiefs (2pm, Kingsholm)
This one is crucial as both sides seek a confidence boosting first victory of the campaign. Gloucester had a bye last week after a tough outing against Harlequins the week before. Dean Close’s Billy Benson is the only change to that backline though, the Dean Close man comes in at fly half. Up front Hartpury College’s Jamie Fallon and Dean Close’s Reuben Woodham come in at hooker and tighthead respectively, while Marling’s Bart Godsell comes in to partner skipper Mikey Nixon of Sir Thomas Rich’s in the second row. In the back row Hartpury College’s Tom Ansom is in on the openside. Exeter Chiefs’ most recent game was also a tough outing against Harlequins. They have kept things pretty similar to that game in terms of their lineup. Truro College’s Rhys Williams comes in on the left wing, meaning a move to outside centre for Exeter College’s Nick Lilley, which sees Truro College’s George Edson move in one to inside centre. Up front it’s as you were, bar a shake up of positions in the back row, with Bobby Pond moving from 7 to 6, Barnaby Elderking from 8 to 7, and Ben Hobbs from 6 to 8.
15 Ioan Jones (Dean Close), 14 Jack Cotgreave (Hartpury College), 13 Ollie Rendell (Sir Thomas Rich’s), 12 Max Knight (Hartpury College), 11 Steff Gibson (Hartpury College), 10 Billy Benson (Dean Close), 9 Charlie Rainbird (Hartpury College), 1 Harrison Bellamy (Hartpury College), 2 Jamie Fallon (Hartpury College), 3 Reuben Woodham (Dean Close), 4 Bart Godsell (Marling), 5 Mikey Nixon (Sir Thomas Rich’s, captain), 6 TJ Fanolua (Cheltenham College), 7 Tom Ansom (Hartpury College), 8 Naquan Smith (Wycliffe College).
Replacements: 16 Sam Loftus (Sir Thomas Rich’s), 17 Ed Wallin (Apprentice), 18 Berian Williams (Hartpury College), 19 Ollie Workman (The Crypt), 20 Olly Allport (Dean Close), 21 Rhys Price (Hartpury College), 22 Woody Walker (Radley College), 23 Joe Eves (Hartpury College).
15 Louie Drennan (Exeter College), 14 Bobby Wiggington (Exeter College), 13 Nick Lilley (Exeter College), 12 George Edson (Truro College), 11 Rhys Williams (Truro College), 10 Benjamin Coen (Blundell’s), 9 Max Ferguson (Exeter College), 1 Josh Mann (Truro College), 2 Lucas Gulley (Exeter College), 3 Harry Rodwell (Exeter College), 4 Charlie Everard (Truro College), 5 Oscar Beckerleg (Truro College), 6 Bobby Pond (Exeter College), 7 Barnaby Elderkin (Truro College), 8 Ben Hobbs (Exeter College).
Replacements: 16 Ted Hocking (Truro College), 17 Callum Arnold (Exeter College), 18 Ollie Critchley (Truro College), 19 Pip Burton-Race (Exeter College), 20 Dom Ellery (Truro College), 21 Will Tanswell (Truro College), 22 Jed Findlay (Exeter College), 23 Sam James (Truro College).
Leicester Tigers 27-24 Northampton Saints
Midlands Central (Wasps) 26-26 Yorkshire Academy
Sale Sharks 27-17 Midlands West (Worcester)
Bristol Bears 26-14 Bath
Gloucester 17-29 London Irish
Saracens 59-17 Exeter Chiefs
Newcastle Falcons 21-32 Midlands Central (Wasps)
Sale Sharks 12-61 Leicester Tigers
Yorkshire Academy 14-52 Northampton Saints
Gloucester 15-25 Bristol Bears
London Irish 22-19 Harlequins
Saracens 52-21 Bath
Round 3 Results
Leicester Tigers 22-29 Newcastle Falcons
Midlands West (Worcester) 26-29 Midlands Central (Wasps)
Northampton Saints 36-14 Sale Sharks
Exeter Chiefs 19-36 Bath
Harlequins 41-14 Gloucester
London Irish 21-17 Saracens
Round 4 Results
Newcastle Falcons 17-10 Sale Sharks
Northampton Saints 44-0 Midlands West
Yorkshire Academy 15-24 Leicester Tigers
Harlequins 31-7 Exeter Chiefs
London Irish 12-15 Bath
Saracens 10-7 Bristol Bears
Round 6 (Saturday 4th February)
Leicester Tigers v Midlands West (TBC)
Midlands Central v Sale Sharks (2pm, Warwick School)
Yorkshire Academy v Newcastle Falcons (2pm, Yarnbury RFC)
Bristol Bears v Harlequins (7.30pm, Dings Crusaders)
Exeter Chiefs v London Irish (12.30pm, Truro College)
Saracens v Gloucester (1pm, StoneX)
Round 7 (Saturday 11th February)
Midlands Central v Leicester Tigers (2pm, Warwick School)
Midlands West v Yorkshire Academy (2pm, Sixways)
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints (2pm, Kingston Park)
Bath v Gloucester (12.15pm, Allington Fields)
Exeter Chiefs v Bristol Bears (2.30pm, Truro College)
Harlequins v Saracens (Sunday, 1.30pm, Cobham RFC)
Finals Day – TBC, 18th/19th February