The Leicester Tigers Academy have finished the U18 Academy League Northern Conference season unbeaten after a final round 47-7 victory over Newcastle Falcons at Oval Park on Saturday afternoon.
Played at the club's Oval Park Training Ground, just down the road from the senior Tigers side Premiership fixture against Harlequins at Welford Road, the young Leicester side came in to the match without a loss and requiring just one competition point to guarantee top-spot in the conference and a place in the grand final on Academy Finals Day (Sunday, March 11) at Allianz Park.
Tigers welcomed back flyhalf Jacob Fewtrell from a groin-injury, seeing the sides top point-scorer Sam Costelow moved to the bench.
It took 18 minutes for the home side to cross for the opening try and points of the match, when a turnover from Tigers forward Taylor Gough near the half-way line allowed the young Leicester outfit to move the ball quickly through their backline and catch the Falcons unaware.
Fullback Freddie Steward sliced through a gap, creating a two-on-one down the left wing and timed a pass perfectly for a flying Will Poland to race away untouched and cross for the first try.
The conversion attempt from Fewtrell narrowly missed, seeing the Tigers lead remain just five points with almost 20 minutes played.
Fewtrell was replaced on the 20 minute mark, after a successful first outing for the season and adding much needed depth to the Tigers squad heading in to the Academy Finals Day, as Costelow came in to the action.
Just five minutes later and the home side were in for their second of the match and second for a winger, when Zack Godfrey was gifted space and time on the outside on the end of a well executed backline move from a mid-field scrum.
Costelow added the conversion and stretched the lead to 12 points with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
As the half-time break approached Leicester had to the crowd cheering as the young side turned back to the clock to an old favourite for Tigers fans as they drove a maul more than 20m from a line-out deep inside the Newcastle half, before hooker Jamie Harding dropped to the floor over the try-line and score.
Costelow again slotted the conversion attempt and the Leicester Academy went in to the break with a 19-0 lead over their Newcastle counterparts.
Despite trailing by three tries and without a score, it was the visitors who came out of the blocks flying in the second half as they went over for their first try of the match in just the second minute after the break.
A break from deep inside their own half saw them with just the Tigers fullback Steward to beat, and numerous players in support, before dotting down for their opener. A successful conversion followed and suddenly the Leicester lead was just 12 points with a little over half an hour remaining.
It wasn't long however before the Tigers were back on the scoring sheet however, securing themselves a place in the 1 v 2 play-off on Academy Finals Day with a fourth try bonus-point in the 41st minute, when No.8 Thom Smith pounced on a loose ball near the Falcons try-line before slamming it down.
Costelow's third straight successful conversion attempt reinstated the 19-point lead from the half-time break.
Only two minutes later and the Tigers had a fifth when inside centre Andre Dunn was gifted a free run to the line after a penalty was awarded Leicester's way 5m out from the Newcastle line and a quick-tap was taken, before a beautiful pass was sent the way of the No.12 to cruise over and touch it down.
Four from four for Costelow from the conversion to follow and Leicester's lead was out 26 points with as many minutes to play.
Fifteen minutes without any points followed and with the match in the bag, Tigers looked to their bench to finish the game with Leicester's coaching staff making a host of changes.
One of those, Luke Phoenix, was the young man to add the sixth score of the match for Leicester when fellow replacement Costelow kicked cross-field and in to the chasing speedster's hands for him to go over in the corner.
An impressive sideline conversion from Costelow stretched the lead to 40-7 with 12 minutes remaining on the clock.
Almost ten minutes later and the Tigers had their seventh and final try of the match when rampaging second-rower Cameron Jordan barged his way over from a pick-and-go on the end of impressive phase-play from the Leicester forwards, with Costelow again adding the extra two points and extending the Newcastle deficit to 40 points.
The final three minutes went scoreless before the full-time whistle was blown on the regular season for the Tigers Academy who, with a 47-7 victory over the Falcons, completed an unbeaten run to finish top of the Northern Conference and set-up a date with Southern Conference winners Gloucester on Academy Finals Day on Sunday, March 11 at Allianz Park.