Leicester Tigers Academy ended the Under-18 League season with victory in the third-place match on Finals Day at Worcester on Sunday.
Tigers won their last four games in the league stages to claim second place in the northern conference and faced southern counterparts Harlequins in the league play-off at Sixways and had to show their determination in coming back from a 12-point deficit to secure a 29-19 victory.
Wearing traditional-style lettered shirts in the Sunday sunshine, the young Tigers trailed by 12 points after scores by Quins wing Finn Tawse and lock Jonny Green before showing good patience in attack shortly ahead of half-time to claim a try through prop Oliver Crane. The touchline conversion from Morgan Meredith made it 7-12.
A break through broken field by full-back Josh Bellamy set up a score for Quins, who had enjoyed the majority of possession, this time from back-rower Zach Carr. The conversion from Sean Kerr put them 19-7 in front at half-time.
The Tigers fight back began when back-rower Chester Owen picked off possession in the Quins backline to put Joseph Woodward in for a valuable score early in the second half and Meredith added the extras to cut the gap to 14-19.
The next score was going to be a pivotal one and it went Tigers’ way on the back of a counter-attack from deep and a penalty on the right-hand side which eventually saw ball played through hands to the left and Woodward’s long pass was finished in the corner by Alex Garrett to level the scores with a quarter of an hour still to play.
Tigers grabbed the next score too, to go ahead for the first time, with powerful work up front rewarded with a try for prop Nathan Hind under the posts and Meredith’s conversion made 26-19.
A Meredith penalty stretched the gap to 10 points entering the last five minutes and Tigers then ran down time after winning back possession and playing through phases of forward play near halfway to protect the lead.
Leicester Tigers Academy: O Ben Taylor, N Malelili Satala, M George Loose, L Joseph Woodward, K Sam Jacques, J Morgan Meredith, I Matt Durbridge; A Tom Wand, B Max Nolan, C Oliver Crane, D Finn Carnduff, E Felix Starkey, F Simon Koroiyadi, H Joshua Manz, G Chester Owen
Replacements: P Jack Hurst, Q Harry Clarke, R Nathan Hind, S Phelton Tandoh, T George Perkins, U Nicolas Gali, V Oscar Van Deventer, W Alexander Garrett