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Home > News > North and London dominate at U16 Divisional Festival
Your News North and London dominate at U16 Divisional Festival

LONDON & SE and the North recorded contrasting victories on an entertaining opening day of the annual Under 16 Divisional Festival at Broadstreet RFC near Coventry today.

London were stronger and better organised than the Midlands and eased to a 32-5 victory in the opening match but the North found the South West better matched opponents and they edged a close encounter 10-7.

A swirling wind made conditions difficult for kickers and only two of the opening days ten tries were converted one in each match.

But underfoot conditions were good and there was plenty of open handling rugby for the England selectors to assess.

Londons victory platform was laid by their powerful pack, notably a big back five in the scrum, which forced the Midlands to live off scraps of possession.

It was from a five metres scrum that London opened the days scoring when they moved the ball right where scrum half Simon Sexton (Wellington College and Surrey) fed right wing Zac Maiden (Stantonbury Campus and Buckinghamshire) who got the try.

Further persistent pressure was rewarded when full-back Louis Clayton-Molloy (St James School and Middlesex) went over on the overlap then number eight Charlie Kingham (Felsted School and Essex) drove over from close range after the Midlands craked at a five metres scrum.

It looked like becoming a rout when Maiden crossed for his second try two minutes into the second half when a crossfield kick bounced favourably for him.

But the Midlands were always spirited and left wing Colin Dickson (Ellesmere College and North Midlands) showed a glimpse of his fine county form before Christmas when he broke three tackles and galloped away for a fine individual try.

The recovery proved shortlived however. An interception from Clayton-Molloy took play deep into the Midlands 22 and left wing Joss Linney (Uppingham School and Hertfordshire) arrived in support to score the try which fly-half Josh Sharp (Sheredes School and Hertfordshire) improved.

There was still time for openside flanker Mark Makram (St Benedicts School and Middlesex) to burrow over for Londons sixth and final try two minutes from time.

The North scored within a minute of the kick-off against the South West when livewire full-back Tim Jeffers (St Ambrose College and Cheshire) crossed. The South West failed to secure the kick-off and centre Tom Hudson (Wilmslow HS and Cheshire) unlocked their defence.

Jeffers was a constant menace to the South West but they defended well after that early lapse and went in front just before half time with a solo try from right wing Tom Howe (RGS High Wycombe and Buckinghamshire).

Howe had put the North on alert a few moments earlier with a powerful run down the right wing, this time he cut inside and, having found himself short of support, accelerated away on a diagonal run to the line.

A conversion from fly-half David Buck (Sherborne School and Dorset & Wiltshire) gave the South West the lead but it last only eight minutes before prop Paul Hill (Hayfield School and Yorkshire) was driven over for what proved to be the winning try.

Jeffers featured prominently in the closing exchanges but he could not find another way through an improved defence.

The Under 16 Divisional Festival continues at Broadstreet on Sunday when the South West play London & SE at 11am followed by Midlands v North at 1pm.

The England selectors then have to choose three squads to play a series of internationals in April.

England Under 16s will play Italy Under 17s at Macclesfield on April 20 and Wales Under 16s at Fylde on April 24.

England will also have two Under 16 sides in action at the Wellington Festival at Wellington College in Berkshire from April 16 to 22.

Preparation for those matches will begin with training camps at Abingdon School (February 22-25) and Stowe School (March 4-6).

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