- Calculators at the ready for pool decider
- Midlands rivals in frame for quarter-final places
Calculators could be required on Sunday January 19 to decide a tight National Under 20 Shield Pool One and determine which two counties progress to the quarter-finals.
Just four points currently divide leaders Durham from third placed Leicestershire with Staffordshire tucked in second place by virtue of their superior points difference following a hard-earned win over Leicestershire last month.
Leicestershire need to beat Durham at Melton Mowbray RFC on Sunday if they are to have any hope of progressing to the last eight but they might also require Cumbria to do them a favour by beating Staffordshire at Longton. Both Midlands counties will progress if they win with a bonus point and Leicestershire can deny Durham a bonus point at Coalville.
Cumbria have yet to win this season having suffered defeats against Leicestershire (36-15) in November and Durham away (47-0) before Christmas.
Leicestershire’s 20-8 defeat in atrocious weather conditions at Lichfield complicated the calculations but team manager Simon Chaperon hopes that victory on Sunday would be enough to take them through.
“We need to win and win well. We are level on points with Staffordshire and only behind them on an inferior points difference of one so it’s very tight,” he said.
“We have got a team that we think can win on Sunday, we just hope that the underfoot conditions improve during the rest of the week.”
Coalville’s pitch passed a preliminary inspection on Tuesday evening and the ground escaped the worst of the heavy overnight rain that was forecast.
Leicestershire welcome back scrum-half Joe Lamb (Leicester University and South Leicester) who missed the Staffordshire defeat because of a broken nose.
No.8 Tristan Trehan (Loughborough University and Royal Navy) will make his first appearance of the campaign. Trehan was a regular in Leicestershire’s side last season but navy commitments have limited his availability so far this season.
Staffordshire are expected to have most of the side that beat Leicestershire available for Cumbria’s visit.
In Pool Two Warwickshire need to beat Somerset at Broadstreet on Sunday if they are to keep alive their quarter-final hopes.
36-8 defeat by Oxfordshire at Old Leamingtonians in November left Warwickshire with a hefty negative points difference to overcome in their remaining pool games.
Warwickshire have one more game to play as their scheduled fixture against Oxford University at Iffley Road last Sunday was postponed because of waterlogging but defeat by Somerset would scupper their quarter-final hopes.
Oxford University, who beat Somerset in their opening match, face a local derby against Oxfordshire at Chinnor this weekend.
National Under 20 Shield
Pool One results: Cumbria 15 Leicestershire 36, Durham 25 Staffordshire 23, Staffordshire 20 Leicestershire 8, Durham 47 Cumbria 0.
Fixtures: Sunday January 19: Leicestershire v Durham (Coalville), Staffordshire v Cumbria (Longton).
Pool Two results: Oxford University 27 Somerset 25, Warwickshire 8 Oxfordshire 36.
Fixtures: Sunday January 19: Oxfordshire v Oxford University (Chinnor), Warwickshire v Somerset (Broadstreet).