North Midlands Under-20s reached the quarter-finals of the National Under-20 Championship with a 27-5 win over Notts, Lincs & Derbsyhire at a foggy Dudley Kingswinford today.
North Midlands will now travel to play Eastern Counties at Shelford on January 25 to determine who will have home advantage in the last eight.
Despite patchy form in their warm-up matches against Cheshire and Buckinghamshire North Midlands found their feet quickly and were 27-0 up before the Three Counties scored their only try with the final play of the match.
Two tries from Hereford lock Gareth Jones in a nine minute period just before half time established North Midlands’ lead with fly-half Tom Jones (Luctonians) converting the second then adding a penalty to stretch the lead to 15-0.
NLD, who were beaten by Eastern Counties in their opening pool match, were lively on the break and North Midlands had to be solid in defence to deny them, particularly when they went down to 14 men for 10 minutes after centre Ted Parker (Bridgnorth) was sin binned.
But North Midlands emerged from a period of defence to seal victory when flanker Josh Gain (Silhillians) rumbled over on the blindside after driving maul from a line out.
Replacement wing Henry Martin (Harper Adams University) then crossed for the fourth try after he dribbled ahead and beat the cover defence for the touchdown and Tom Jones added the conversion.
NLD’s persistence was rewarded when replacement wing Jack Kinsey of Lincoln crossed in injury time but their campaign ended with this defeat.