GLOUCESTER U18 23 FALCONS U18 23
Gloucester were first on the board with a penalty after three minutes before Falcons centre Eldon Myers broke down the right touchline, fended the last man and scored in the corner. The lead was extended shortly afterwards when Zach Kibirige used his power and pace to dart over the line taking the score to 10-3.
Ollie Hodgson was yellow-carded on 20 minutes, and after sustained Gloucester pressure and with the wind behind their backs, the Cherry and Whites eventually scored from a multi-phase attack. The conversion was unsuccessful and the half-time score was Gloucester 8-10 Falcons.
The second-half started where the first had left off with both sides moving the ball quickly into space and attacking with poise and purpose. The Falcons extended their lead courtesy of a Craig Willis penalty before a series of phases in the Falcons 22-metre area led to a try for Gloucester which levelled the score at 13-13.
The momentum again shifted in favour of the Falcons when Nick Cairns scooped up a loose ball deep inside his own half and carried into Gloucester territory. The ensuing penalty from fly-half Willis put the Falcons ahead and as Gloucester began to chase the game, Sean Brown added insult to injury when he intercepted on half way and took the Falcons into a 10 point lead.
It was relatively short-lived though, and with both sides making changes a penalty was awarded to Gloucester after a breakdown infringement to pull them back within seven points and with 10 minutes remaining a series of wide attacks exposed the Falcons rearguard and the try and conversion brought the score level at 23-23.
The game was open and flowing and it was the Falcons who nearly had the last word. Fielding a clearance kick on half way, Kibirige beat four defenders and broke free down the middle of the field. The Yarm School flyer drew the full-back and passed to his wingman Sean Brown who was hauled down by the chasing defender. His offload pass fell between the supporting Tom Small and Ollie Hodgson and despite a fly hack through, Gloucester were able to secure the ball and kick to touch.
Academy head coach, James Ponton summed up the day, saying: “The lads had some adversity to deal with on the way to the game and responded really well. They are a tight group who play for each other and today we were really pleased with the performance.
“A draw was probably a fair reflection as both sides created lots of chances to score. It is probably our most consistent performance to date and because of that it is difficult to single anyone out for praise because it was a whole squad effort.”
The Falcons under-18s are next in action on Saturday 9 February against Leeds Carnegie under-18s in the league. The game is at Druid Park with an 11.30am kick-off. Entry is free of charge.