North Midlands Under-18s ended their short county programme with a heartening 26-21 win over East Midlands in today’s Super Sunday tournament at Broadstreet RFC near Coventry.
The win followed a draw against Staffordshire and a defeat by Warwickshire, and showed considerable character by North Midlands who recovered from going 14 points down early on.
North Midlands, who played into the wind in the first half, regrouped and rallied strongly with props Connor Deignan (Ludlow College, Luctonians RFC and Herefordshire) and Kai Owen (Worcester Sixth Form College, Worcester RFC and Shropshire) and number eight Charley Wright (Shrewsbury Sixth Form College, Telfford Hornets RFC and Shropshire) all punching holes in the East Midlands’ defence.
Wright began the fightback with a try that was improved by scrum-half Rhys Harrhy (New College, Telford Hornets RFC and Shropshire) and North Midlands pulled level when the powerful Owen bulldozed his way over and Harrhy again added the conversion.
Having begun the half disappointingly, North Midlands ended it impressively with hooker Joel Middleton (Hereford Cathedral School, Luctonians RFC and Herefordshire) rounding the full-back for an unconverted try which gave them the lead.
But North Midlands struggled to make the wind advantage count in the second half and they needed some resolute defence to frustrate East Midlands.
Lock Jack Jones (The Crypt School, Ledbury RFC and Herefordshire) settled their nerves when he capitalised on slick handling and crashed over from close range ruck with Harrhy again adding the extras.
East Midlands exerted further pressure in the final quarter and set up a tense finale when they scored a late converted try, but North Midlands held on for victory.
The Midlands Under-18 selectors will now choose a squad for assessment and training sessions, the next step in the selection process for this season’s England Counties Under-18s team.