- Holders Gloucestershire and Yorkshire through to National U20 final
- Pair record emphatic victories in semi finals
Photo: Getty Images
Yorkshire and Gloucestershire, the heavyweights of National Under 20 Championship rugby since its creation a decade ago, will meet in this season’s final at Worcester Warriors’ Sixways Stadium on Sunday, May 13.
They both reached the showpiece with emphatic semi final wins: Yorkshire beating Hertfordshire 60-31 at Hull RFC; and Gloucestershire recording a 62-0 victory over Leicestershire at Lydney.
Hertfordshire arrived on Humberside in buoyant mood after topping the London & South East regional table and in a high-scoring encounter, they were always competitive and determined to take the contest to the final whistle.
Despite seeing his side score nine tries, Yorkshire coach Anthony Posa was by no means jubilant at the final whistle.
"We’re obviously satisfied with the result," he said. "It was always a potential banana skin, especially when you are playing a team you don’t know much about.
"We’re happy with the tries that we created and when we kept our shape we were very effective, but we’re also unhappy to leak 30 points. We have to work on that and our feet are firmly on the ground. When we played collectively and stuck to our structures I was happy with what we created, but we lost our urgency in defence and that’s something we’ll work on.
"We’ll be looking to improve on that aspect of our game and we know that we’ll definitely have to improve if we are going to get the result we’re looking for."
Yorkshire had too much fire power and physicality in all departments and in producing some of their best work before the break, managed to build a 34-10 half-time lead that ensured that they were always able to keep their visitors at arm’s length, even when their own game lost shape and direction in the second half and their defensive operations faltered.
Two converted tries in the opening exchanges put Yorkshire in the driving seat and though Hertfordshire responded with a well-worked try by hooker Will Roberts and a conversion and penalty from full back Dan Watt, the home side took their try-tally to five by the break. Wing Will Heyling claimed a hat trick to supplement the opening scores from centre Joe Martin and lock Piers Phillips.
A solo dash from Hertfordshire scrum half Nick Foster cut the deficit to 34-17, but hooker Sam Kerry, replacement prop Jack Bergmanus, wing Ben Johnson and flanker Richard Skowronek took Yorkshire’s try tally to nine, while fly half Greg Lound finished with six conversions and a penalty.
Hertfordshire refused to concede and while their cause was somewhat helped by the arrival of uncontested scrums when props Adam Tamanis (Yorkshire) and Louis Castaliagone (Herts) were sent off for fighting, they were defiantly positive to the death. Tries by wing William Hague-Blundy and full back Watt, both goaled by the latter, rewarding their excellent never-say-die spirit.
"We’re really proud of the effort the lads have put in and the way they’ve progressed," said Hertfordshire Manager John Saunders. "I’m also really, really pleased with the way my coaching team of Peter Engeldow, Marcus Cattell and James Coles have developed the boys.
"I’m so pleased and proud of the way they played today. They never gave up and kept trying and trying and trying. In the end they achieved a respectable score against a very good Yorkshire side. We are so proud of the team and look forward to seeing them develop in years to come."