Under-18s set to face Bath on finals day

Saturday 26 February 2022

Newcastle Falcons aim to end their Under-18s season on a high on Sunday when they face Bath Rugby.

The 3.30pm kick-off forms part of ‘finals day’ in Worcester, where teams from the Premiership Academy U18s league’s northern and southern groups go head to head.

Newcastle won three and lost three of their six-regular-season games, with a mid-season three-game winning streak seeing them within a whisker of top spot.

Academy head coach James Ponton explained: “We went into our last regular-season game at Northampton knowing that a win would mean us ending up top of the northern half of the league, but the table was so tight that the defeat actually dropped us down to fourth.

“That means we now play Bath on finals day, who finished fourth in the southern half of the league, and the winner of that game will finish seventh overall for the season.”

Reflecting on that loss at Franklin’s Gardens, and how it sets the Falcons up for Sunday’s showcase, he added: “We got a bit stunned down at Northampton, where they came out absolutely flying at us.

“It took us a little bit of time to get going, and that one result has had a big impact on our finishing position. I guess it shows it’s a really healthy league when the teams are all so competitive against one another, and we’ve now got this one last chance on Sunday to end on a positive note.

“We’ve been able to download all of Bath’s games and have a look at them, although to be honest we don’t put a huge emphasis on opposition analysis. We’ll obviously have looked at them, but ours is more of a player development programme focused on how our own guys come through.

“The team stuff is important, and learning to win is part of that, but it’s about individual development as much as anything.”

Marking the end of a journey for some players and a stepping stone for others, Ponton said: “For some guys this will be their last involvement with the Falcons, and that’s just the reality of professional sport.

“The Under-18s league is a good standard, and for the guys who end up leaving us we will have made them into better players during their three or four years with us.”

At a time when the Falcons are basing so much of their senior squad on homegrown talent, the academy head coach added: “It’s been really fulfilling to see that the whole narrative and marketing push around the Falcons first team has been based around the homegrown players, and talking up the importance of our academy.

“It’s quite a statement by the club to go down that route, and there are a lot of good players in the area. If we can keep bringing them through then we’ll be in even greater health, and as a club we’ll be looking at how we can make it a more seamless process for guys working their way up through the system.

“But the players are there, definitely, and this current Under-18s squad has some fantastic talent in it.”

Newcastle Falcons U18s team v Bath U18s (Sunday, 3.30pm, Sixways Stadium)

15 Ben Redshaw (Sedbergh School)

14 Natty Greenwood (Gosforth Academy & Whitley Bay Rockcliff)

13 Jez Civil (Gosforth Academy & Wensleydale)

12 Will Hindle (Gosforth Academy & Blaydon)

11 Oz Roberts (Austin Friars & Carlisle)

10 Harry Williams (Barnard Castle & Stockton)

9 Ben Douglas (Gosforth Academy & Northern)

1 Micky Rewcastle (Gosforth Academy & Blaydon)

2 Charlie Smith (Dame Allans & Novos)

3 Isaac Keller (Gosforth Academy & Northern)

4 Finn Baker (Sedbergh School)

5 Ayden Knott (Gosforth Academy & Consett)

6 Breamar Murray (Sedbergh School)

7 Will Gibbons (Barnard Castle)

8 Ewan Venerus (RGS Newcastle & Novos)

Replacements

16 Ben Wright (Sedbergh School & Durham City)

17 Morgan Hall (Gosforth Academy & West Hartlepool)

18 Sam Birkbeck (Kirkby Lonsdale)

19 Will Murray (Gosforth Academy & Novos)

20 Zach Oldham (Gosforth Academy & Carlisle)

21 Freddie Nickalls (RGS Newcastle & Novos)

22 Will Roue (Sedbergh School)

23 Tom Burton (Sedbergh School)

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