- Protherough relishes National quarter-final
- Leicestershire face Oxfordshire in Shield
North Midlands are undaunted by the prospect of having to face Lancashire in the quarter-finals of the National Under 20 Championship at Liverpool St Helens on Sunday, April 7 (2.15pm).
North Midlands sneaked into the last eight as runners-up behind Gloucestershire in a tight pool but their performance in a narrow defeat by last season’s beaten finalists in their last match at Cinderford has encouraged coach Dan Protherough.
“It will be tough but we are looking forward to the challenge. Yorkshire and Gloucestershire have traditionally been the strongest teams in this competition but Yorkshire have already gone out,” Protherough said.
“We pushed Gloucestershire very hard at Cinderford and I thought we were unlucky to lose down there.
“We were very encouraged by that performance and although we face a tough assignment against Lancashire we think we’ve got a chance.The good thing about the way the competition has been organised this year is that all of our matches so far have been very close so there has been plenty of interest.
“We have had no one-sided games which has meant that there has been something in them for everyone.”
North Midlands will welcome back prop Gino Belmonte and lock Nathan Parker from duty with Midlands Under 20s in last weekend’s England Counties Under 20s Divisional Weekend at Welbeck College in Leicestershire.
Belmonte had the honour of captaining the Midlands although it proved to be a disappointing weekend as the Midlands surrendered their Divisional title.
Leicestershire will also have Midlands fly half Tom Moxon (Leicester Lions) available for their National Under 20 Shield quarter-final against Oxfordshire at Gosford All Blacks on April 7 (2.30pm).
But Leicestershire will be missing Hinckley lock Declan Johnson through injury as they attempt to reach the last four of the second tier tournament in the revamped Under 20 competition.
“We’ve got a couple of videos of Oxfordshire’s pool matches and I would say that if we don’t front up to them in the forwards we will struggle,” said Leicestershire manager Simon Chaperon.