- Heavyweights live up to expectations
- Yorkshire find crucial improvement
Great expectations that the final of the National Under 20 County Championship between Gloucestershire and Yorkshire would be a battle of the heavyweights were confirmed as the White Rose side claimed a 28-22 victory in an evenly-fought contest at Worcester RFC.
Having been beaten last season by Gloucestershire at the semi-final stage, Yorkshire were keen to avenge that disappointment, while their opponents were looking to retain the title and with both teams having reached the final with 60-point victories, the scene was set for a robust confrontation.
So it proved as the lead changed hands three times and Gloucestershire were hammering away for a winning score when the final whistle was blown.
Dings Crusader’s full back Harvey Skelton gave Gloucestershire an early lead with a penalty, but Yorkshire hit back with try by Beverley centre Ben Johnson that Greg Lound, the Hull fly half, converted.
England Counties Under 20 captain Harris Casson (Hartpury College), the No.8, put Gloucestershire ahead again, Skelton converting, before a Lound penalty levelled matters at 10-10.
Bristol prop Ricky Cano then crashed over for Skelton to convert, but Yorkshire got back on level terms at the interval after hooker Tom Amiral-Moody (Beverley) crossed and Lound converted.
Yorkshire were first to score after the interval when Harrogate wing Arnie Ellison gathered a cross-kick to score, Lound opening up an eight-point gap with a penalty at 25-17.
Undaunted, Gloucestershire got back to within a score with a Skelton try, but though the South West side stuck grimly to the challenge to the bitter end, the only further score was another penalty by Lound.
"We may have scored plenty of points during the campaign, but today it was our defence that won the day," said Manager Keith Dyas. "If we had defended like we did in the Semi-final against Hertfordshire, we would certainly have lost today, but we’ve been working on that aspect of our game and we improved dramatically.
"It was a much higher quality performance and we deserved the win. I think the mid-week session we had with the Yorkshire senior side definitely helped. We played really well in the second-half, but Gloucestershire were still coming back at us strongly and the game went right to the wire.
"As a non-Yorkshireman said to me afterwards, your side played with real Yorkshire grit and that about sums it up. They did really well."