Bristol U18s 17 Chiefs U18s 21
Bristol Bears Under-18s 17
Exeter Chiefs Under-18s 21
Alfie Martin at North Bristol RFC
The New Year fireworks may be over, but sparks flew for the Exeter Chiefs Under-18s, who started 2019 off with a bang with a nail-biting 21-17 victory over their Bristol Bears counterparts.
The boot of Haydn Lidstone proved vital in the triumph, the fly-half making the difference as both teams crossed for three tries apiece.
First-half tries from Josh Thorne and Troy Sixton, coupled with captain Jake Bond’s crossing in the second half, helped edge the Chiefs young guns ahead.
It’s undoubtedly a breath of fresh air for the young Academy side, who came unstuck in their first two Premiership Under-18s encounters against London Irish and Bath respectively. This win marks their first of the season, and a potential turning point at the halfway mark.
Bristol made it hard work for the Chiefs in the early encounters, but all eyes were on No.8 Josh Thorne, who opened the scoring for the visitors off the back of a handy driving maul. Lidstone’s trusted boot added the extras to extend the Chiefs’ lead early on in the contest.
But it didn’t take long for Bristol to hit back with some magic of their own. Harry Ascherl made his presence felt with a thundering carry up to the whitewash, the centre dotting down for his side’s first score of the afternoon.
With the first half winding to a close, the ball found itself in the hands of newcomer Troy Sixton, who’s defence-splitting show of pace opened the gap for him to dot down the Chiefs’ second converted try.
HALF TIME BRISTOL UNDER-18s 7 EXETER CHIEFS UNDER-18s 14
The whistle had barely left referee Richard Haughton’s mouth and the Chiefs were already digging away in the Bristol 22. This time it was captain Jake Bond with hands on the ball, delivering it to the line and rewarding his team their third score. Up stepped Lidstone once more, slotting the kick and sending the Chiefs young-guns into the 20s.
With time on the clock ticking over, Bristol looked to muster up a comeback and it came at the hands of Zach Kavanagh, the winger darting down the left flank to close the gap with an unconverted try.
A resurgence from the Bristol outfit kept Exeter on their toes, with dangerous runs looking to pick out any weaknesses in the Devonian barricade. Replacement front-row Charlie Squier was next to find the line, the rumbling unit diving over in the far-left corner to match the visitors’ try count. But another unsuccessful conversion attempt meant that the lead would remain Exeter’s until the closing of events.
Bristol Bears Under-18s: T Wilstead, J Bates (C Mullins 52), Z Kavangah, T Jones, H Ascherl, T Quinlan (J Kendall 43), B Boyland (A Turner 35), S Ihegie (C Squier 39), A Thompson (J Coughlin 39), H Samuel (J Burley 39), C Rice, M Strinati (C Moseley 48), J Timoney, H Chase (A Watson 50), F Dick.
Exeter Chiefs Under-18s: F Dart (D Gosling 51), B Fenton (A Gozzard 51), T Sixton, A Hill, C Cadogan, H Lidstone, A Stacey (T Cairns 47), C Goldsmith (D Welch 55), W Goffey (M Oliver 55), C King (C Leigh 47), J Elsworth, L Bralsford (J Greaves 42), J Bond (Capt, E Maltby 51), E Maltby (H Hocking 47), J Thorne.
Referee: Richard Haughton