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Under-18s Final up for grabs for Parkin’s young Saints

Northampton Saints bring the Premiership Rugby U18 Academy League to a close this weekend, with head coach Will Parkin naming his side to take on Newcastle Falcons in the last clash of the regular season. 

Sitting top of the Northern Conference after five matches, Northampton’s youngsters need only to match local rivals Leicester Tigers’ result on Saturday (11 February, kick-off: 2pm) to secure their place in back-to-back Finals – with a win at Kingston Park guaranteeing their place at the top of the table. 

And Parkin makes just two changes to his side that toppled Midlands Central Academy on the main pitch at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens last time out – with William Lamprell and Ollie Holliday coming into an otherwise unchanged Saints side. 

“We’re relishing getting back into league action after a few weeks away,” Parkin said. 

“The team enjoyed a good run out in our friendly against Bath last week, it gave us a great chance to blood some younger players as well as give some more exposure to boys that haven’t been involved as much in the league so far. 

“We were also able to give the lads who’ve played a lot this season some valuable rest, but I have no doubt that those boys will be raring to go for the trip up north on Saturday.”

Saints top both the point-scoring and try-scoring stats across both the Northern and Southern Conferences having won four out of their five clashes so far, and have set themselves the challenge of keeping those records heading into Finals Day. 

And Parkin says that watching his side pick up those records – as well as other goals they set themselves at the start of the season – is one of the most pleasing elements of the team’s performance across the year. 

He continued: “The purpose of our Academy is to develop these lads as rugby players; part of that is learning to thrive under pressure in match environments and part of that is working hard to achieve the goals we set as a group. 

“Seeing the lads buy into that mindset over the course of the season to hit some of those targets has been very pleasing for us as a coaching group.

“And while challenging for silverware is obviously a part of those goals, our end goal as coaches is to ensure the lads leave the Under-18s pathway a better player.”

Will Parkin, U18s Head Coach

“But as we close this season, we know it all comes down to putting in a good performance under pressure this weekend if we want to be challenging for that silverware at the StoneX in two weeks’ time.” 

Should Saints top the Northern Conference after Saturday’s clashes, Northampton will face either London Irish or hosts Saracens in the last match of Finals Day on Sunday 19 February (kick-off: 7pm).

NEWCASTLE FALCONS U18s vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS U18s
Premiership Rugby U18 Academy League
Saturday 11 February, 2023
Kingston Park
Kick-off: 4.30pm

15 Ewan Baker
14 Ben Radnor
13 Harry Simpson 
12 Ollie Saddleton 
11 Toby Cousins
10 Rory Hollis
9 Archie McParland 

1 Lucas Nisbett-Hadaway 
2 Sol Moody
3 William Lamprell
4 Aiden Kabi
5 Ashton Webb
6 Henri Burditt
7 Henry Pollock (c)
8 Ollie Holliday

Replacements:
16 Robert Gaffan 
17 Oliver Scola
18 Tom Dye 
19 Kieran Perkins 
20 Alfie Hoyles 
21 Billy Pasco
22 Ben Agebnu
23 Logan McCabe

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