The penultimate round of the U18 Academy League takes place this weekend, and with the Guinness Six Nations kicking off it will represent the perfect chance to spot some Six Nations stars of the future.
Unfortunately one game has fallen foul of the weather, Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins, and it is possible that others may fall as well. On the schools rugby scene from 22 1st XV games previewed on Thursday just 8 remain at the time of writing, with the Shiplake 7s also falling.
Hopefully the U18 Academy League survives though as Round 6 is a key round for sides jostling for those all-important finals day places. The top 3 sides from each conference will head to Allianz Park on Sunday 17th February for Finals Day. The top side in each conference playing for the title, second in each playing for third, and third in each playing for 5th. Across both conferences there is still plenty to play for then.
Leicester Tigers have pretty much wrapped up the Northern Conference, in theory two bonus point wins for Newcastle in the next two rounds and no match day points for Leicester on Saturday at Sixways, their final league game, could see them knocked off if Newcastle secure a big enough points difference, but it looks unlikely.
Any sort of matchday point away to Worcester Warriors would definitely seal top spot in the conference and a place in the final for Leicester, regardless of how Newcastle do. It would mean back to back finals appearances for Leicester, who won the league last year. Worcester will not make it easy, but having not yet registered a win in the campaign, Leicester will be favourites.
Though Newcastle Falcons could technically chase them down, more realistically they will be focused on making that top 3 finish in the conference to reach finals day. They have a key game in that aim on Sunday at the AJ Bell as they face Sale Sharks who sit in third currently, just two points behind.
The winner of that game will be looking very comfortable for a place at Allianz Park, while the loser will be under real threat from Wasps, who start the weekend in fourth place. Wasps host Northampton Saints on Saturday and start as favourites. Should they win they will really put the pressure on Newcastle and Sale ahead of them, setting up a real cracker on Sunday lunchtime.
The Southern Conference is unbelievably tight, with Gloucester top on 18 points, Harlequins 2nd on 17, Bath 3rd on 16, and London Irish and Saracens just a little behind n 11 and 10 respectively.
Harlequins were set for their final game of the league stage on Saturday and a possible shot at top spot, at least for a while, however their game against Exeter Chiefs has had to be cancelled due to the weather and it looks unlikely that there would be enough of a window to rearrange it given that Exeter have to play next weekend and finals day is the following weekend.
Gloucester then have a chance to pull away a bit at the top of the table, however a midday trip to London Irish’s Hazelwood will be a tricky task as London Irish will no doubt be targeting getting into that Top 3 over the next two rounds, they are only five points behind Bath and six behind Harlequins.
Bath meanwhile will be aiming to overtake Quins and keep the pressure on Gloucester this weekend when they travel to Saracens. A good win would keep them right on the tails of last year’s finalists. However, like London Irish, Saracens will be eyeing up a top 3 finish and a win over Bath would close them in to within just a couple of points of that aim, so expect a brilliant game at Allianz Park at 1pm on Saturday.
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U18 Academy League Round 6 Fixtures:
Sale Sharks v Newcastle Falcons – Sunday, 12pm, AJ Bell
Wasps v Northampton Saints – Saturday, 1.30pm, Warwick School
Worcester Warriors v Leicester Tigers – Saturday, 1pm, Sixways
Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins – Cancelled
London Irish v Gloucester – Saturday, 12pm, Hazelwood
Saracens v Bath – Saturday, 1pm, Allianz Park
Sale Sharks – TBA
15 Theo Manihera, 14 Seamus Hutton, 13 Chidera Obonna, 12 Will Panday, 11 Will Roberts, 10 Will Haydon-Wood, 9 Callum Pascoe, 1 Phil Brantingham, 2 Walid Kurdi, 3 Oscar Caudle, 4, Ben Robson, 5 Freddie Lockwood, 6 Mason Lewthwaite, 7 Will Pettifer, 8 Paddy Cooper.
Replacements: 16 Owen Chaplain, 17 Will Elliott, 18 Drew Thompson, 19 Adam Harvey, 20 Marcus Tiffen, 21 Max Pepper, 22 Michael Cooke, 23 George Barber.
15 Bacon, 14 Panella, 13 Baldwin, 12 Ma’asi, 11 Williams, 10 Atkinson, 9 Mortimer, 1 Pleasants, 2 Barbeary 3 Cordice, 4 Ademuwagun, 5 Mawdsley, 6 Tunney (captain), 7 Eckersley, 8 Jakobsen.
Replacements: 16 Nearchou, 17 Coombs, 18 Sabin, 19 Pichardie, 20 Fislau, 21 Monye, 22 Mitchell, 23 Ramsey. TRs Pope, Hughes.
15 Freeman, 14 Dayes, 13 Hyde, 12 Litchfield, 11 Gillespie, 10 Grayson, 9 Crane, 1 Hughes, 2 McDowell, 3 Prowse, 4 Ward, 5 Clayton, 6 Parry, 7 Rylands, 8 Iyogun (captain).
Replacements: 16 Donald, 17 Longaretti, 18 Charter, 19 Chalk, 20 TBC, 21 Connor, 22 Brosnan, 23 Lewis.
15 James Mann (RGS Worcester), 14 Lewis Maddox (Bromsgrove), 13 Harry Spencer (Warwick), 12 Sebastian Atkinson (Bromsgrove, captain), 11 Rufus Hulbert (Bromsgrove), 10 Fin Smith (Warwick), 9 Oliver Wynn (Bromsgrove), 1 Monty Royston (Hartpury College), 2 Joe Richardson (King’s Worcester), 3 Jamie Constantine (Harpury College), 4 Arinze Okemuo (KES Birmingham), 5 Jack Lewis (Stourport HS), 6 Jack Forsythe (Warwick), 7 Will Higgins (Idsall), 8 Morgan Monks (Worcester 6th form College).
Replacements: 16 Ben Turner (Bromsgrove), 17 Will Davis (Ellesmere College), 18 Lewis Ballenger (Worcester 6th form College), 19 Tom Black (Hereford 6th form College), 21 Peter Olley (Bromsgrove), 22 Paul Wells (Worcester 6th form College), 23 Tom Matthews (RGS Worcester).
15 Ollie Smith, 14 Harry Sturmey, 13 Ronnie Du Randt, 12 Matt Potts, 11 Joe Browning, 10 Harry Glynn, 9 Jack Van Poortvliet (captain), 1 Alex Maxwell, 2 Archie Vanes, 3 Jack Rowntree, 4 Will Backhouse, 5 Tom Manz, 6 Emeka Ilione, 7 Kit Smith, 8 Ollie Ashworth.
Replacements: 16 Finlay Gibson, 17 Bob Singer, 18 Rob Hardwick, 19 Scott McVea, 20 Sam Eveleigh, 21 Sam Edwards, 22 Charlie Titcombe, 23 Leo Gilliland.
15 Finley Brown, 14 Michael Dykes, 13 Ted Drayson, 12 Will Joseph, 11 Alex Harmes, 10 Will Sinfield, 9 Sam Clough, 1 Luke Green, 2 Nathan Langdon, 3 Osin Kearney, 4 Joseph Maybey, 5 Chunya Munga, 6 Josh Smart (captain), 7 George Davis, 8 Jack Belcher.
Replacements: 16 Joseph Vajner, 17 Lennan Day, 18 Joe Keohane, 19 Albert Dwan, 20 Joseph Knight, 21 Lucas Brooke, 22 Rory Morgan, 23 Niall McGann.
15 Brooke Turner, 14 Oli Parmar, 13 Louis Hilman-Cooper, 12 Isaac Marsh, 11 Louis Rees-Zammit, 10 George Barton, 9 Matty Jones, 1 Harry Fry, 2 Ethan Hunt, 3 Jenson Boughton, 4 Archie Benson, 5 Freddie Thomas, 6 Joe Howard (captain), 7 Josh Gray, 8 Jack Clement.
Replacements: 16 Leyton Chambers, 17 Marcus Reading, 18 Harry Daynes, 19 Archie Tarbuck, 20 Harry Taylor, 21 Harry Gipson, 22 Tommy Mathews, 23 Max Fletcher.
15 Max Bliss (Dulwich College), 14 Lucas Lacamp (King’s Canterbury), 13 Cameron Furley (St Albans), 12 Josh Hallett (New Hall), 11 Jake Morris (Bishop Stortford College), 10 Josh Barton (Berkhamsted), 9 Sam Bryan (Felsted), 1 Harry Sturge (Felsted), 2 Theodore Dan (Alleyn’s), 3 Harvey Beaton (Sutton Valence), 4 Alex Wardell (Felsted), 5 Toby Ponsford (Skinners’), 6 Ethan Benson (Hayes), 7 Toby Knight (Berkhamsted), 8 Oliver Stonham (Felsted, captain).
Replacements: 16 Samson Adejimi (Davenant Foundation), 17 Jevaughn Warren (Oaklands College), 18 Matt Cannon (JFK Hemel Hempstead), 19 Nathan Bispham (North School), 20 Brandon Jackson (Sutton Valence), 21 Charles Favell (Bishop Stortford College), 22 Chris Hooper (Colfe’s), 23 Daniel James (Townsend C of E).
15 George Worboys, 14 Gabe Goss, 13 Diego Periel, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Gabriel Hamer-Webb, 10 Orlando Bailey, 9 Tom Carr-Smith, 1 Archie Stanley, 2 Tom Jenkins, 3 Archie Griffin, 4 Ewan Richards, 5 Ethan Staddon, 6 Ayden Chenoweth, 7 Xavier Hastings, 8 Nahum Merigan.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Law, 17 Jamie Guest, 18 Jack Bertinet, 19 Frankie Read, 20 Will Hendy, 21 Ed Walrock, 22 Will Cook, 23 Nat Arnold.
Round 5 Results:
Leicester Tigers 28-14 Yorkshire Carnegie
Newcastle Falcons 33-21 Worcester Warriors
Sale Sharks 48-22 Northampton Saints
Exeter Chiefs 7-49 Saracens
Harlequins 8-16 Bath
London Irish 62-12 Bristol Bears
Round 4 Results:
Leicester Tigers 27-24 Sale Sharks
Northampton Saints 10-41 Newcastle Falcons
Yorkshire Carnegie 5-50 Wasps
Bath 77-17 Bristol Bears
Gloucester 27-26 Harlequins
Saracens 31-19 London Irish
Round 3 Results:
Leicester Tigers 34-7 Wasps
Newcastle Falcons 22-14 Yorkshire Carnegie
Worcester Warriors 19-24 Northampton Saints
Bristol Bears 17-21 Exeter Chiefs
Gloucester 23-22 Bath
Saracens 12-26 Harlequins
Round 2 Results:
Northampton Saints 12-53 Leicester Tigers
Wasps 42-31 Worcester Warriors
Yorkshire Carnegie 19-19 Sale Sharks
Bath 64-7 Exeter Chiefs
Bristol Bears 14-50 Gloucester
Harlequins 43-26 London Irish
Round 1 Results:
Newcastle Falcons 14-66 Leicester Tigers
Sale Sharks 43-17 Wasps
Yorkshire Carnegie 31-12 Worcester Warriors
Gloucester 28-12 Saracens
Harlequins 48-0 Bristol Bears
London Irish 36-20 Exeter Chiefs
Round 7 Fixtures (9th February):
Northampton Saints v Yorkshire Carnegie
Wasps v Newcastle Falcons
Worcester Warriors v Sale Sharks
Bath v London Irish
Bristol Bears v Saracens
Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester
U18 Academy League Finals Day – Sunday 17th February, Allianz Park