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East Midlands win sixth title

30 October 2005

East Midlands won the Midlands Under-18 Championship for a sixth consecutive season with a 17-10 victory over Warwickshire in today's final at Broadstreet.

East Midlands recovered from being ten points adrift at the interval to retain the Robert G Coward Cup with a stirring second half fightback in which they made clever use of a strong downfield wind and scored 17 unanswered points.

Warwickshire threatened to end East Midlands' domination of the tournament when lock Will Lyne (Southam) barged over to round off a sustained attack after nine minutes and fly-half Tom Short (Nuneaton) added the conversion.

Short then added a penalty after 29 minutes but was injured when East Midlands flanker Rory Keir (Kettering) tried to charge down the kick, mistakenly believing it was a conversion. Keir was sin-binned and Short, who tried to play on, was forced to limp off at the break.

East Midlands pulled to within three points within eleven minutes of the restart when replacement flanker Ben Timpson (Bedford Blues) crossed after a close range attack and replacement fly-half Harry Owens (Kettering) added the conversion.

East Midlands went in front after 55 minutes when skipper and lock John Cannon (Bishops Stopford School and Kettering) ploughed over after a break from Tom Bridgeman (Wellingborough School and Kettering).

Owens added the conversion and he then tacked on a penalty eight minutes from time which made certain of victory.

Cannon, the son of former Northampton lock and captain Vince Cannon, collected the trophy from Bob Coward, a stalwart of colts and schools rugby in Warwickshire and the Midlands.

North Midlands took third place after a hard-earned 10-7 win over Notts, Lincs & Derbyshire in their play off in the second match of the Midlands Festival at Broadstreet.

First half tries from flanker Will Blackwell (Ellesmere College) and full-back Michael Penn (Bromsgrove School) gave North Midlands a 10-0 interval lead. NL&D responded with a well-taken try from centre Will Bradley (Kings' School, Grantham) which was improved by fly-half Will Nelson of Trent College.

Leicestershire claimed fifth place with a 19-10 victory over Staffordshire, which was their first win in the tournament this season.

Staffordshire led 10-5 at half-time through a try from James Askew (Newcastle-under-Lyme School), the son of England Under-19 coach Tosh Askew, and a conversion and penalty from Greg Massey (Lichfield).

But Leicestershire took control in the second half a sealed victory with tries from Ben Avent and Richard Durose (John Cleveland College) and two conversions from Tom Wheatcroft (John Cleveland College).

Tom Southall, also of John Cleveland College, completed a good day for the Hinckley-based school by scoring Leicestershire's first-half try.

The Midlands selectors will spend this week finalising their squad for a series of assessment and training sessions ahead of the first Divisional Festival at Castlecroft in Woleverhampton in January.

 

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