Leicester Tigers and London Irish shared the Under-18 Academy League title with a 22-22 draw in the Final on Sunday.
Chasing a third successive title after wins over Gloucester in each of the last two seasons, Tigers had to come back from a 10-point deficit to gain a share of the spoils at Worcester’s Sixways Stadium.
Both teams made it to the final with five wins from six rounds and they could not be separated at the final whistle of the campaign.
First blood went to Irish with prop Tarek Haffar beating away several attempted tackles to reach out and score with just five minutes played and Monty Bradbury added the conversion.
Tigers spent most of the opening 10 minutes in their own half, not helped by several handling errors, before finally setting up a position to get on the scoreboard themselves.
After two lineout drives on the left, the forwards exerted some pressure on the tryline. But despite being held up over the whitewash from one attack, they made best use of another penalty when scrum-half Edwards tapped and dived in to score. Charlie Titcombe levelled the scores with the conversion.
But Irish claimed a second score just around the halfway mark in the opening period when No8 Marcus Rhodes forced his way over from close range to make it 12-7.
An incisive attack from right to left brought a third try for the Exiles just after the half-hour, with Will Joseph showing good pace and power to get the ball down in the corner to stretch the lead to 10 points.
Tigers missed a potential chance for an instant rely by misjudging a penalty into the left-hand corner but were quickly back on the ball, carrying through the forwards on the edge of the Irish 22 until another penalty took them into the corner, only to be met by stubborn resistance from the rivals who protected their 17-7 lead up to the break.
A chargedown from Bobby Singer allowed Tigers to build some pressure in attack at the start of the second half and they made good use of it as back-rower Tebbatt scored in the corner. Titcombe judged his touchline conversion to perfection to bring it back to 17-14.
Titcombe pointed to the posts from a penalty award just short of halfway and his confidence was rewarded with a kick which levelled the scores with less than 10 minutes gone in the second period.
Irish were next on the scoresheet, putting ball through hands in the backline for wing Finley Brown to score their fourth try of the day on the left. Bradbury’s conversion was held up in the wind with five points between the teams.
Tigers, though, fired the next shot with Henry Joule scoring in the right-hand corner after some strong work up front just in front of the posts to level the scores at 22-22.
Irish replacement Alexander Harmes thought he’d added another try after breaking through on the right, only to be penalised for a double movement as he was talked just short.
There were five minutes remaining on the clock when Tigers were awarded a penalty and they played into the right-hand corner to set up a drive f0r the line but were penalised five metres out and Irish cleared towards halfway.
It made for an anxious closing few minutes with both teams looking for ne last chance as play was locked in the middle third of the field.
A high tackle in midfield provided that chance to Irish who kicked to the right for a lineout just seven metres out but the Tigers pack stuck to their task and the maul was held up without making much ground as the final whistle blew.
Worcester Warriors secured third place with a 29-17 victory over Saracens, and Newcastle Falcons scored a last-minute converted try to beat Bristol 35-34 in the fifth-placed fixture on Finals Day.