The Aviva A League returned last night in stunning fashion with some extraordinary games of rugby.
Of the six games, including Friday night’s game between Bath United and Saracens Storm, not a single home side won, and three sides scored over sixty points.
Reigning champions Northampton Wanderers kicked off their campaign with a 22-7 away win at Sale Jets. Saints picked a strong side, including George North, and were ahead as early as the 9th minute through Charlie Clare, with new signing Rob Horne adding a second shortly after. Johnny Leota hit back for Sale to leave them just 12-7 behind at the break but further Saints tries from Jamie Elliott and another new signing, Jamal Ford-Robinson, sealed the win.
Wasps A, meanwhile, played host to Newcastle Flacons A at Broadstreet RFC. Things looked good for Wasps early on when Owain James, the former Harrow star, scored, however from their Newcastle tore into them, romping to a 67-21 win. They took in a 27-7 lead at the half through scores by Craig Willis, Adam Radwan, and Ben Stevenson, before accelerating away in the second half. Brett Connon, Simon Uzokwe, and Harrison Orr added further scores before Merchant Taylors’ leaver and England U18 scrum half Will Porter struck for Wasps.
Newcastle were straight back at it though as Gosforth Academy star Morgan Passman scored and Nick Civetta and Glen Young added further scores, TJ Harris grabbed a late try for Wasps to leave the final score at 67-21.
The final game in the north saw Leicester Tigers A make a successful trip to Worcester Cavaliers, winning by a stunning 62-12 margin.
Worcester flew out of the blocks, going 12-0 up through Scotland U20 number 8 Tom Dodd and scrum half Sam Pointon before Tigers put their foot to the floor. They took a 28-12 lead into the break with a brace from Jordan Olowofela and tries from Harry Simmons and Harry Mahoney, Mahoney then added a second shortly after the break before Olowofela completed his hat-trick.
Charlie Thacker, Joe Maksymiw, and Jono Kitto added more tries for Tigers, and extraordinarily, despite the size of the score, that was the scoring done for the evening, despite there still being a quarter of the game to go.
The Southern Conference kicked off on Friday night, with Saracens’ second string, much like their first string against Northampton Saints at Twickenham, putting on a real show, beating Bath 65-13 to begin their campaign with a bang.
With the side being led by England U20 back rower Ben Earl, with his U20 colleagues Max Malins, Jack Nay, and Dom Morris for company, alongside school leavers Reuben Bird-Tulloch and Sean Reffell, it was a performance that suggested that there is plenty to be excited about in terms of Saracens’ future.
That left just two games to be played on Monday night. Last season’s losing finalists, Exeter Braves, were away at Harlequins A, and looked to be facing a tough evening as they went in 9-0 down at half time. With twenty minutes to go they remained 9-0 down but late tries from Shaun Malton and James Freeman helped them to a solid 20-9 win.
London Irish are back in the A League after they gave it a miss last year to focus on promotion from the Championship. This year’s campaign got off to a tough start at home to Gloucester as they went two tries down in eight minutes as Charlie Chapman and Tom Hudson crossed the line for the Cherry and Whites.
Rising star Tom Parton countered for Irish, but Gloucester struck back through Will Safe and Carwyn Penny for a 24-7 half time lead. Jacob Atkins narrowed the deficit for Irish shortly after the break as the game went back and forth, Henry Trinder responding for Gloucester but Ben Ransom striking back for Irish. Eventually though the game was settled by Glocuester wing Aquillen Smith, whose late try game Gloucester a comfortable looking 38-19 victory.
A League Fixtures and Results:
Sale Jets 7-22 Northampton Wanderers (Northern Conference)
Wasps A 21-67 Newcastle Falcons A (Northern Conference)
Worcester Cavaliers 12-61 Leicester Tigers A (Northern Conference)
Bath United 13-65 Saracens Storm (Southern Conference)
Harlequins A 9-20 Exeter Braves (Southern Conference)
London Irish A 19-38 Gloucester United (Southern Conference)
Bath United XV:
15 Darren Atkins, 14 Levi Davis, 13 Duncan Craig, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Harry Davies, 10 Josh Lewis, 9 Will Flinn, 1 Will Vaughan, 2 Michael van Vuuren, 3 Sam Nixon, 4 Will Britton, 5 Scott Russell, 6 Jack Davis, 7 Josh Bayliss, 8 Zach Mercer.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Arthur Cordwell, 18 Bradley Packham, 19 Chris Barry, 20 Ollie Fox, 21 Robbie de Bruyn, 22 Wil Partington.
Saracens Storm XV:
15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Mike Ellery, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Tom Griffiths, 11 Rotimi Segun, 10 Max Malins (vc), 9 Henry Taylor, 1 Ralph Adams-Hale, 2 Christopher Tolofua, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 4 Mark Flanagan, 5 Joel Kopku, 6 Jack Nay, 7 Joel Conlon, 8 Ben Earl (c).
Replacements: 16 Tadgh McElroy, 17 Sakaosi Pifeoeti, 18 Billy Walker, 19 Danny Cutmore, 20 Sean Reffell, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Rueben Bird-Tulloch, 23 Dom Morris.
Harlequins A XV:
15 Tim Swiel, 14 Cadan Murley, 13 Winston Stanley, 12 Harry Sloan, 11 Tim Visser, 10 James Lang, 9 Dave Lewis (c), 1 Lewis Boyce, 2 Elia Elia, 3 Phil Swainston, 4 John Okafor, 5 Stan South, 6 Dino Lamb-Cona, 7 Archie White, 8 Renaldo Bothma.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Piper, 17 Cameron Holenstein, 18 Josh Ibuanokpe, 19 Llewelyn Jones (Guest), 20 Willie Ryan (Guest), 21 Calum Waters, 22 Jake Hennessey, 23 Niall Saunders.
Exeter Braves XV:
15 Sal M’Boge, 14 Tom O’Flaherty, 13 Tom Hendrickson, 12 Harvey Skinner, 11 Pete Laverick, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Will Chudley, 1 Moray Low, 2 Shaun Malton, 3 Greg Holmes, 4 Toby Salmon, 5 Mitch Lees, 6 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 7 Julian Salvi (c), 8 James Freeman.
Replacements: 16 Jack Innard, 17 Billy Keast, 18 Jack Owlett, 19 Sean Lonsdale, 20 Tom Lawday, 21 Stuart Townsend, 22 Sam Morley, 23 Harrison Cully.
London Irish A XV:
15 Tom Parton, 14 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 13 Tom Fowlie, 12 Matt Williams, 11 Ben Ransom, 10 Jacob Atkins, 9 Rory Brand, 1 Harry Elrington, 2 Tom Woolstencroft, 3 Lovejoy Chawatama, 4 Josh Basham, 5 Will Lloyd, 6 Jake Schatz, 7 Isaac Curtis-Harris, 8 Lasha Lomidze.
Replacements: 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Elliot Roofe, 18 Austin Hay, 19 Dom McGeekie, 20 Max Northcote-Green, 21 George Pickersgill, 22 Ben Harris, 23 Louis Flynn.
Gloucester United XV:
15 Reece Dunn, 14 Charlie Chapman, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Tom Hudson, 11 Mason Tonks, 10 Carwyn Penny, 9 Callum Braley, 1 Alex Seville, 2 Henry Walker, 3 Ciaran Knight, 4 Charlie Beckett (c), 5 Tom Denton, 6 Will Safe, 7 Aaron Hinkley, 8 Gareth Evans
Replacements: 16 Cameron Orr, 17 Will Crane, 18 Jack Bartlett, 19 Harry Butler, 20 Harry Wilson, 21 Ed Coulson, 22 Aquillen Smith, 23 Alex Ducker.
Sale Jets XV:
15 Tom Carleton, 14 Arron Reed, 13 Luke James, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Josh Charnley, 10 Kieran Wilkinson, 9 Tom Walsh, 1 Jake Pope, 2 Curtis Langdon, 3 Will-Griff John, 4 Matt Postlethwaite, 5 George Nott, 6 Nic Dolly, 7 David Seymour, 8 Laurence Pearce.
Replacements: 16 Ianto Jones, 17 John Blanchard, 18 Laurence Sanderson, 19 Joseph Murphy, 20 Alex Dolly, 21 Sam Stelmaszek, 22 Connor Wilkinson, 23 Charlie Venebales.
Northampton Wanderers XV:
15 George Furbank, 14 Juan Pablo Estelles, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Tom Stephenson, 11 George North, 10 Rory Hutchinson, 9 Cobus Reinach, 1 Francois van Wyk, 2 Charlie Clare, 3 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 4 Michael Paterson, 5 Alex Moon, 6 Paddy Ryan, 7 Ben Nutley, 8 Sam Dickinson (c).
Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Matt Beesley, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Devante Onojaife, 21 Tom Kessell, 22 Fraser Strachan, 23 Jamie Elliott.
Wasps A XV:
15 Rob Miller, 14 Taju Atta (Wasps Academy U18), 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Guy Armitage, 11 Owain James, 10 Connor Eastgate, 9 Craig Hampson (c), 1 Ben Harris, 2 Antonio Harris, 3 Will Stuart, 4 Cameron Gray (Coventry RFC), 5 Guy Borrowdale (Rotherham Titans), 6 Gabriel Oghre, 7 James Seabrook, 8 Tom Willis.
Replacements: 16 Will Owen, 17 George Thornton, 18 David Langley, 19 James Moreton (Broadstreet RFC), 20 George Cox (Nottingham RFC), 21 Will Porter, 22 Josh Grimes (Nottingham RFC), 23 Jo Davetanilavu (Army).
Newcastle Falcons A XV:
15 Brett Connon, 14 Cameron Cowell, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Charlie Wilson, 11 Adam Radwan, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Ruaridh Dawson, 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 Santiago Socino, 3 Jake Ilnicki, 4 Glen Young, 5 Evan Olmstead, 6 Harrison Orr, 7 Simon Uzokwe, 8 Ryan Burrows (c).
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Jack Bergmanas, 18 Diogo Ferreira, 19 Nick Civetta, 20 Gary Graham, 21 Cameron Kelemeti (Durham School), 22 Morgan Passman (Gosforth Academy), 23 Max Davies.
Worcester Cavaliers XV:
15 Nick David, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Ollie Lawrence (Bromsgrove School/Warriors U18), 12 Ollie Allsopp (Birmingham Moseley), 11 Alex Hearle, 10 Sam Hollingsworth (Birmingham Moseley), 9 Sam Pointon (Birmingham Moseley), 1 Gareth Milasinovich, 2 Matti Williams, 3 Nick Rigby, 4 Justin Clegg, 5 Christian Scotland-Williamson, 6 Ted Hill, 7 Huw Taylor (c), 8 Tom Dodd.
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Kai Owen (Luctonians), 18 Jay Tyack (Birmingham Moseley), 19 Aaron Crofts (Birmingham Moseley), 20 Owien Harriott-Davis (King’s Worcester/Warriors U18), 21 Josh Nott (Nottingham Trent University), 22 Josh Jarvis (Birmingham Moseley), 23 Afeafe Haisila Lokotui.
Leicester Tigers A XV:
15 Jordan Olowofela, 14 George Catchpole, 13 Gareth Owen, 12 Charlie Thacker, 11 Jonah Holmes, 10 Tom Hardwick, 9 Harry Simmons, 1 Kyle Traynor, 2 Harry Mahoney, 3 Ben Betts, 4 Sam Lewis, 5 Joe Maksymiw, 6 Tom Croft (c), 7 Will Evans, 8 Valentino Mapapalangi.
Replacements: 16 Callum Lynch, 17 Owen Hills, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Toby Hutchinson, 20 Fred Tuilagi, 21 Jonno Kitto, 22 Matt Travers, 23 Jon Hughes.