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Clarke: Lots to take into final Under-18 Academy fixture

Northampton Saints Under-18s have got plenty to build on despite a tough 50-13 loss to Wasps at Warwick School, according to coach Jon Clarke.

The visitors started strongly, getting close early doors after a great piece of solo play from Tommy Freeman, before a penalty came within Ethan Grayson's range to get the scoring started. 

But the home side's dominance in the maul soon proved too much for Saints and Alfie Barbeary crossed the whitewash for Wasps' first of seven.

Wasps would add another quickly, through Jude Williams, but Saints hit back instantly and as the forwards mauled close, it was Ed McDowell who dotted down.

And though Wasps added another through Barbeary before half time, Saints were very much keeping pace with their hosts at the break.

After the turnaround though, the tides turned and Wasps would score 33 unanswered points before Saints could get on the scoreboard again, a consolation effort coming from captain Emmanuel Iyogun right at the death.

But Academy coach Clarke says there are plenty of positives to take away from the game despite the result. 

"I thought the boys worked really hard but it just didn't happen for us today," Clarke commented

"There were parts of our game where we were just behind them on certain things but when we play, we're outstanding and that's something that we've got to keep working on. 

"It's just those small parts of the game that we don't get right that affect us a lot. And Wasps are a good team, they pick up on those."

And heading into the last game of the season next weekend as they take on Yorkshire Carnegie at home, Clarke is keen to close the league on a high.

"It's another opportunity for us to get that right, to play those 80 minutes, just move the ball and enjoy ourselves. We've got a massive opportunity to end the season on a high - it'll be the last game for a lot of the guys. 

"We've just got to keep pushing forwards - we can learn a lot from this. That's the message that we'll be sending out; come back on Monday, train hard and get up for the last game against Yorkshire."

WASPS: Bacon; Panella, Baldwin, Ma'asi, Williams; Atkinson, Mortimer; Pleasants, Barbeary, Cordice, Ademuwagun, Mawdsley, Tunney, Eckersley, Jakobsen
Replacements: Nearchou, Coombs, Sabin, Picardie, Fisilau, Monye, Mitchell, Ramsey

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS: Freeman; Dayes, Hyde, Litchfield, Gillespie; Grayson, Crane; Hughes, McDowell, Prowse, Ward, Clayton, Parry, Rylands, Iyogun
Replacements: Donald, Longaretti, Charter, Chalk, Connor, Brosnan, Lewis