The U18 Academy League Finals Day fixtures are now known after the final round of conference games were played over the weekend.
The top three teams from each conference will head to Sixways Stadium on Sunday, each taking on the counterpart from the opposing conference in the play offs.
Leicester Tigers and London Irish will meet in the final, they had already both confirmed that status with a round to spare, while victories at the weekend helped to confirm Worcester Warriors and Saracens meeting in the 3rd place play off. Meanwhile the fifth place play off will see Newcastle Falcons and Bristol Bears meet. Newcastle Falcons just missing out on second place by the most slender possible of margins – the two sides finished level on points difference.
The big story in the Northern Conference was a first defeat in three U18 Academy League seasons for Leicester Tigers as they fell to a 34-20 defeat to Wasps, however having already secured a place in the final it was not too big a problem for the back to back champions. For Wasps, meanwhile, it was as good an effort as they could possibly give but ultimately it left them just a point shy of a place at finals day as they finished up in fourth place.
The two other sides that will be at finals day from the Northern Conference are Worcester Warriors and Newcastle Falcons. They knew they needed big wins to try and get that second place spot confirmed and boy did they deliver. Newcastle gave it everything, beating Northampton Saints by a stunning 64-7 margin. Worcester Warriors went out and did almost the exact same though, condemning Yorkshire Carnegie to a winless season with a 65-5 victory. It meant that the two finished level on points, 21, level on points difference, 81, and separated by just a single try, thirty to Worcester and twenty-nine to Newcastle, with Worcester having scored just four more points that Newcastle all season too.
It meant Newcastle finished in third with Worcester in second, a tough blow for Newcastle but probably fair, in the game between the two Worcester did win 21-19. Both will head to finals day though, Worcester hosting and facing Saracens, Newcastle facing Bristol Bears.
The Southern Conference was almost as dramatic, this time in the race for third. In the top two placings though things were clearer, London Irish already had top spot sown up and had a bye week, while Saracens’ 29-19 away win at Harlequins sealed second place for them and put Quins firmly out of contention.
Bristol Bears and Gloucester began the weekend in fifth and sixth in the table and looking like long shots to claim third place, but in the end it became a shootout between the two for it. Bristol were facing bottom of the table Exeter Chiefs and duly confirmed that that would be were Exeter finished as they won 43-26 away from home to finish on 15 points, putting them ahead of Quins.
Bath were on 14 points and Gloucester 10 but when Gloucester beat Bath 31-19 that took Bath out of the running and left Gloucester on 15 as well, level with Bristol, but sadly for them behind on both points difference and tries scored, though having beaten Bristol early in the season they must have been gutted to miss out by such a slim margin.
It all set up for a special day at Finals Day though, taking place on Sunday at Sixways Stadium. Oddly it kicks off with the 3rd place play off between Worcester Warriors and Saracens at 12pm, before the fifth place play off between Newcastle Falcons and Bristol Bears at 2pm.
Then at 4pm comes the main event, the final, where Leicester Tigers will be chasing a third title in a row. In London Irish, though, they face a serious opponent and it will be a game that is by no means even close to a foregone conculsion.
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U18 Academy League Round 7 Results:
Wasps 34-20 Leicester Tigers
Newcastle Falcons 64-7 Northampton Saints
Worcester Warriors 65-5 Yorkshire Carnegie
Harlequins 19-29 Saracens
Bath 19-31 Gloucester
Exeter Chiefs 26-43 Bristol Bears
Finals Day – Sunday 16th February (Sixways Stadium)
Final – Leicester Tigers v London Irish, 4pm
3rd Place –Worcester Warriors v Saracens, 12pm
5th Place – Newcastle Falcons v Bristol Bears, 2pm
U18 Academy League Tables:
15 Olly Hartley (Whitgift), 14 Luke Bray (RGS High Wycombe), 13 Toby Baldwin (Rugby), 12 Reketi Ma’asi-White (Harrow), 11 Ollie Dawkins (RGS High Wycombe), 10 Charlie Atkinson (Abingdon, captain), 9 Ollie Monye (The Oratory), 1 Coombs Archie McArthur (City of Oxford College), 2 Dan Eckersley (Bloxham), 3 Max Morphey (City of Oxford College), 4 Alfie Bell (King Henry VIII, Coventry), 5 Fyn Brown (Shiplake College), 6 Jack English (Coventry College), 7 Kofi Cripps (Rugby), 8 Greg Fisilau (City of Oxford College).
Replacements: 16 Andy Petros (City of Oxford College), 17 Beckett James Coombs (Abingdon), 18 Macco Isaac Kayada (Rugby), 19 Mason Nicholls (City of Oxford College), 20 Aaron Florestein (Merchant Taylors’), 21 Jack Hughes (Rugby), 22 Evan Mitchell (Finham Park), 23 Tane Dunn (Langley).
O Henry Joule, N Harry Sturmey, M Jack Taylor, L Billy Hull (c), K Josh Lugsden, J Jack Vernum, I Jed Gelderbloom, A Lynx Noumey, B Joe Plunkett, C Tim Hoyt, D Callum Oakden, E Phil Tandoh, F Ben Muncaster, H Jordan Tebbatt, G Bobby Singer.
Replacements: P Tom Coton, Q Dan Clements, R Seb Smith, S Archie Benford, T Noah Leo, U Danny O’Regan, V Harry Read, W Felix Martin.
15 Tom Robinson, 14 Michael Graham, 13 Thomas Moore, 12 Ewan Greenlaw, 11 Matty Ward, 10 James Blackett, 9 Ben Douglas, 1 Mark Dormer, 2 Owen Chaplin, 3 Phil brantingham, 4 Adam Scott, 5 Louis Peackock, 6 Rhys Tait, 7 Guy Pepper, 8 Owen Vassallo.
Replacements:16 Ollie Fletcher, 17 Matty Siddle, 18 Drew Thompson, 19 Ben Robinson, 20 Marcus Tiffen, 21 James Naylor, 22 Nathan Gough, 23 Harry Gallagher.
15 Brosnan, 14 Martin, 13 Grayson, 12 Litchfield, 11 Long-Martinez, 10 Jenkins, 9 Crane, 1 Cilia, 2 Burns (c), 3 Bridges, 4 Charter, 5 Atuanya, 6 Wright, 7 Chalk, 8 Irvine.
Replacements: 16 McCartney, 17 Longaretti, 18 Frostick, 19 Clayton, 20 Ramply, 21 Bowyer, 22 Bull, 23 J Grayson.
15 James Mann, 14 Alex Evans, 13 Harry Spencer, 12 Seb Atkinson (c), 11 Tobi Wilson, 10 Finn Smith, 9 Ollie Wynn, 1 Ben Murphy, 2 Joe Richardson, 3 Mitch Reeve, 4 Ewan Guy, 5 Charlie Hagan, 6 Jack Lewis, 7 Finlay Thomas, 8 Jack Forsythe.
Replacements: 16 Ben Rowley, 17 Sam Hayler, 18 Adam Lane, 19 Tom Miles, 20 Finn Morgan, 21 Josh Harrison.
15 Harry Matthews, 14 Jack Cherry, 13 Freddy Clark, 12 Joe Mounsey, 11 Patrick Tabalakia, 10 Tom Georgiou, 9 Olly Fisher, 1 New Hawker, 2 Ethan Myers, 3 Billy Addy, 4 George Bennett-Teare, 5 Olly Tomalin, 6 Cameron Briggs, 7 Ed Hasdell, 8 Toby Boyce.
Replacements: 16 Tomas Bairstow, 17 Zsolt Patacky-Snell, 18 Oscar Stott, 19 Harry Cartright, 20 Jacob Head, 21 Tom Parkin, 22 Will Barratt, 23 Jack Haydock.
15 Josh Tusler, 14 Kitan Ojo, 13 Oscar Beard, 12 Bryn Bradley, 11 Cassius Cleaves, 10 Jamie Benson (c), 9 Jago Bailey, 1 Will Hobson, 2 Nathan Jibulu, 3 Fin Baxter, 4 Ollie Corvett, 5 Enzo Croy, 6 Ed Tompson, 7 Makeen Alikhan, 8 Ted Johnson.
Replacements: 16 David Ofori-Manteauw, 17 Jonny Staples, 19 Jonny Green, 19 Chris Preen, 20 Lorcan O’Byrne-Nestor, 21 Luke Wyllie, 22 Ludo Kolade.
15 Tobias Elliott, 14 Francis Moore, 13 Brandon Jackson, 12 Josh Robson Groom, 11 Tom Mills, 10 Alex Cahill, 9 Sam Bryan, 1 Tristan Smith, 2 Ehimen Osebor, 3 Zack Hill, 4 Kaden Pearce-Paul, 5 Alex Wardell, 6 Matt Cannon, 7 Toby Ponsford, 8 Toby Knight.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Galligan, 17 Alfie Goater, 18 Terrel Harry 19 Obinna Nkwocha, 20 Nathan Bispham, 21 Charles Favell, 22 Seth Mokuolu, 23 Wilson Ijeh.
15 Ethan Morgan, 14 Will Morris, 13 Ethan Hawtin, 12 Oli de Glanville, 11 Felix Connelly, 10 Orlando Bailey (c), 9 Tom Carr-Smith, 1 Archie Stanley, 2 John Stewart, 3 Archie Alexander, 4 MacKenzie Graham, 5 Ewan Richards, 6 Tom Cowan, 7 Tom Ahl, 8 Frankie Read.
Replacements: 16 Jasper Spandler, 17 Kobi Joyce, 18 Christian Freeman, 19 Teyi Adeyeye, 20 Ben Lemos, 21 Oli Cook, 22 Will Fitz-Gerald, 23 Lui Natui.
15 Goring, 14 Baron, 13 Hillman-Cooper (cc), 12 Howells, 11 Rowland, 10 Adderly-Jones, 9 Jones, 1 Lascelles, 2 Veness, 3 C Taylor, 4 Clark, 5 Williams, 6 Scriven, 7 H Taylor (cc), 8 Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Hewitt, 17 Reading, 18 Pollard, 19 Sprague, 20 Hart, 21 Gipson, 22 Humphreys, 23 Burgess.
15 Charlie Levick, 14 Billy Orchard, 13 Kian Gentry, 12 Archie Hill, 11 Frankie Nowell, 10 Iwan Jenkins, 9 Tom Cairns (c), 1 Ethan Pearce-Cowley, 2 Harry Hocking, 3 Harry Wilkinson, 4 Christ Tshiunza, 5 Milo Hallam, 6 Joe Elsworth, 7 Jake Bond, 8 Ben Grubb.
Replacements: 16 Oli Jeffrey, 17 Dylan Arthur, 19 Bailey Williams, 19 Sam Leworthy, 20 Tommy Woodward, 21 Will Becconsall, 22 Charlie McCaig, 23 Sam Walker.
15 Chay Mullins, 14 Benjy Joseland, 13 Harry Rowson, 12 Dylan Power, 11 Ollie Holiday, 10 Tom Wilstead, 9 Angus Judkins, 1 Andrew Turner, 2 Thomas Gwilliam, 3 George Perry, 4 Spike Jangen, 5 Charlie Rice, 6 George Taylor, 7 Jamie Collier (c), 8 MacEnzie Duncan.
Replacements: 16 Jalen Curry, 17 Tom Sims, 18 Aaron Thompson, 19 Alex Ashton, 20 Soloman Taufa, 21 Cal Smith, 22 Jac Lloyd, 23 Ru Schofield.
U18 Academy League Results:
Leicester Tigers 25-12 Northampton Saints
Wasps 54-12 Yorkshire Carnegie
Sale Sharks 22-20 Worcester Warriors
Saracens 31-19 Exeter Chiefs
Bristol Bears 18-17 Bath
Gloucester 10-22 London Irish
Newcastle Falcons 42-24 Wasps
Yorkshire Carnegie 28-50 Northampton Saints
Sale Sharks 18-27 Leicester Tigers
Gloucester 36-25 Bristol Bears
London Irish 41-31 Harlequins
Bath 26-14 Saracens
Worcester Warriors 33-21 Wasps
Leicester Tigers 19-0 Newcastle Falcons
Northampton Saints 24-37 Sale Sharks
Harlequins 41-15 Gloucester
London Irish 28-34 Saracens
Exeter Chiefs 7-22 Bath
Yorkshire Carnegie 17-28 Leicester Tigers
Northampton Saints 19-36 Worcester
Newcastle Falcons 29-22 Sale Sharks
London Irish 29-17 Bath
Harlequins 21-12 Exeter Chiefs
Saracens 29-12 Bristol Bears
Northampton Saints 15-52 Wasps
Worcester Warriors 22-19 Newcastle Falcons
Sale Sharks 19-14 Yorkshire Carnegie
Bristol Bears 19-46 London Irish
Gloucester 5-29 Exeter Chiefs
Bath 40-36 Harlequins
Leicester Tigers 31-22 Worcester Warriors
Yorkshire Carnegie 19-40 Newcastle Falcons
Wasps 31-21 Sale Sharks
Exeter Chiefs 19-47 London Irish
Bristol Bears 32-21 Harlequins
Saracens 21-24 Gloucester