- Kent and Herts victorious in U20 Championship Pool 4
- Essex edge out Middlesex in U20 Shield
The RFU’s National Under-20 Competition got under way last Sunday with wins for Hertfordshire, Kent and Essex in the new-look tournament.
Middlesex lost by one point, 27-26, at home to Essex at Staines RFC, while Herts edged Hampshire out by the same margin at Bishop’s Stortford. Kent won 20-17 against Berkshire at the Barts and the London RFC ground in Chislehurst.
The National U20s competition has been re-organised into a two-tier event with a Championship and Shield, each producing quarter-finalists.
The changes have been made to ensure that counties and other RFU Constituent Bodies including East Midlands and Oxford University can enter an appropriate level of competition with the focus on meaningful matches and player welfare.
As with all the county sides locally, after each U20s match players are graded on their performance, offering the chance for further progression through to London & South East Division. Further grading and matches lead to England Counties representative rugby.
U20s rugby is specifically aimed at those players with talent who have not achieved elite status. It also feeds into each county’s senior squad.
The Championship and Shield each have a pool and knock-out stage, and the quarter-finals will be played on April 7, 2013, the semi finals on April 21 and the final of the weekend of May 4.
A closely contested encounter at Barts and the London RFC ended in joy for Kent as their full back Ryan Redman (Medway) coolly slotted an added-time penalty from the touchline to ensure victory for the home team over Berkshire.
Kent had tries in the first-half by scrum-half Stefano Nella (Old Elthamians) and second row George Oram (Aylesford), both converted by Redman.
Having been reined in to lead 17-12 and then tied at 17-17, Kent showed great strength of character in securing possession and bombarding the resolute Berkshire defence in the dying minutes.The pressure told with a penalty awarded wide on the left and Redman did not disappoint.
Hertfordshire Stags hung on to a one-point lead over Hampshire U20 for the last 20 minutes of their opening National U20 match of the season.
During that time the Stags had a couple of try-scoring opportunities but also were relieved to see the Hampshire kicker miss two penalty attempts, one with only two minutes left to play.
Herts’ first try came through hooker Will Roberts (Bishop’s Stortford) after four minutes and there were tries in the second-half for two other Stortford players: centre Connor Reynolds and fly-half Tom Walsh. Old Albanians centre Dan Watt converted Walsh’s try after 51 minutes and added a penalty 11 minutes later.
National U20 Competition 2012-13, results/fixtures for London & South East teams:
Championship Pool 4:
November 11: Hertfordshire 20 - Hampshire 19, Kent 20 - Berkshire 17.
December 2: Berkshire v Hertfordshire, Hampshire v Kent.
February 10, 2013: Berkshire v Hampshire, Kent v Hertfordshire.
Shield Pool 4:
November 11: Middlesex 26 - Essex 27, Sussex v Surrey postponed.
December 2: Essex v Sussex, Surrey v Middlesex.
February 10, 2013: Middlesex v Sussex, Surrey v Essex.