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Home > News > North and South West winners at U18 Divisional Festival
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Your News North and South West winners at U18 Divisional Festival

THE North and the South West opened the annual Divisional Festival with contrasting victories over London & South East and the Midlands at the annual Under 18 Divisional Festival at Broadstreet RFC near Coventry this afternoon.

The North snatched a dramatic last-gasp 35-34 win thanks to a winning penalty from fly-half Edward Hainsworth (Bradford GS, Leeds Carnegie and Yorkshire) from the touchline after they had been 14 points adrift with only ten minutes to play.

But the South Wests 37-15 win was more comfortable with three unanswered tries at the start of the second half sealing the victory.

After two seasons on rubber crumb pitches at Moseley and West Park Leeds because of severe weather conditions, the festival returned to grass today. Though the weather was chilly there was no wind which gave Hainsworth and South West fly-half Freddie Gabbitass (Millfield School, Bath and Somerset) the chance to show off their place-kicking skills.

Hainsworth began a high-scoring afternoon by landing an early penalty for the North but it was soon cancelled out by one from his opposite number Jack Parsons (Queen Marys, Winchester and Berkshire).

London & SE then opened up a 15-3 lead by the break when scrum-half Tom Bliss (Epsom College, Cobham and Surrey) dummied over after he had made the initial break which put the North under pressure.

Centre Harry Sloan (Skinners School, Harlequins and Kent) then set up left wing Tom Bowen (Sussex Downs College, Lewes and Sussex) from a swift counter-attack after the North lost the ball in contact in London territory.

But the North proved tenacious and they reduced the deficit to two points within six minutes of the restart when openside flanker George Hymes (Hartpury College and Cheshire) followed up a charged-down kick and Hainsworth added the conversion followed by a penalty.

It looked like being a London win when they opened up a 16 points lead with two tries in as many minutes from hooker and captain Tom Crozier (Colchester Sixth Form College, Colchester and Essex) and Sloan, after superb interplay with Bliss, both of them improved by Parsons.

But the North would not lie down. Number eight Matt Rogerson (Ripley St Thomas, Vale of Lune and Lancashire) ploughed through for another try that Hainsworth improved.

Even when Gabriel Carroll crossed within a minute of coming on as a replacement, London could not finish off the North who finished strongly with lock Joe Robinson (Sedbergh School, Newcastle Falcons and Cumbria) twice crossing in the last ten minutes.

Hainsworth converted Robinsons second try then held his nerve to lever over the winning penalty from close to the right hand touchline.

In the second match Gabbitass contributed 17 points to the South Wests win but it was his three first half penalties which ensured that the Midlands could not establish a match-winning lead.

The Midlands scored three first half tries through centre De La Rey Veenendaal (Oakham School, Northampton Saints and East Midlands), lock Tom Griffiths (Bromsgrove School, Hereford and North Midlands) and blindside flanker and captain Barnaby Woods (Bromsgrove School and North Midlands), but fly-half Will Goodwin (Ellesmere College, Whitchurch and North Midlands)was unable to convert any of them.

In contrast, Gabbitass converted a try midway through the first half from flanker Daniel Lee (Ivybridge Community College, Crediton and Devon) followed by three penalties which gave the South West a one point advantage at the break.

Gabbitass was on target again in the second half as he converted the tries scored by full-back Jamie-John Kilmartin (Millfield School, Harlequins and Somerset), hooker Nico Woodward (St Peters HS, Coney Hill and Gloucestershire) and openside flanker Ben Pritchard (St Pauls, London Irish and Berkshire) to give the South West a comfortable victory.

The Under 18 Festival, which is being watched by selectors who will choose a squad to prepare for the England Under 18 Clubs & Schools side to play Ireland in Dublin on April 10, continues on Sunday February 20.

South West will play the North in the opening match at 11am with London & SE meeting the Midlands at 1pm.

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