Rafe runs riot as Saints Under-18s secure final spot for third successive year

Saints Under-18s beat Newcastle Falcons on Saturday (picture: Adam Gumbs)Saints Under-18s beat Newcastle Falcons on Saturday (picture: Adam Gumbs)
Saints Under-18s beat Newcastle Falcons on Saturday (picture: Adam Gumbs)
Winger Rafe Witheat grabbed a hat-trick to help Saints book their place in the Premiership Under-18 Academy League final with a resounding eight-try 54-17 victory over Newcastle Falcons.

Charlie Reed’s side entered Saturday’s final North Group game at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens knowing a victory would send them into next weekend’s finals day at Kingsholm Stadium for a shot at the big prize for a third successive year.

And the Saints youngsters wasted little time in making that prospect a reality as Edoardo Todaro ran home from inside his own half in the second minute before Witheat grabbed his first with a central burst.

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Henry Lumley and Tom Ross brought up the bonus point with just 12 minutes played, with Louis Haley impressively converting all of them from the tee from a variety of angles.

Falcons, to their credit, didn’t crumble under the early onslaught and responded through Charlie Turnbull and Jacob Butterill tries to close the half-time gap to 16 points.

But the threat of a Falcons comeback was extinguished after the break as Witheat completed his treble with scorching scores either side of an Alfie Hoyles effort.

Harry Bellamy rumbled over for Falcons before Saints got their eighth and final try through Rhys Harries.

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“I think Rafe on the wing was outstanding with his tries,” said Saints Academy coach Charlie Reed.

“I think the bench that came on were exceptional.

"At the end of the day, it was just so nice to see the lads with all their families on the sidelines all proud, wearing Saints hats. They’re all excited for next week.

"That is what this is all about: giving these boys an opportunity to play in this unbelievable stadium and have a memory for life.

“For some of those Under-18s boys, the final will be their last last game in an Academy league. So let’s go and create another great memory and let’s all be together and celebrate as one if we get the win.”

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On the overall performance against Falcons, Reed added: “I think it was classic us. We thought the game was won and there’s still an hour to go!

“It was fantastic for the boys to get themselves a win like that.

"Credit to Falcons, we knew Newcastle were going to put us under the pump. We knew they were going to be physical, they had some fresh boys coming back.

"We had to step up and, for the majority of the game, we did that.”

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Saints team v Newcastle Falcons: 15 Edoardo Todaro,; 14 ⁠Ben Agbenu, 13 ⁠Henry Lumley, 12 Billy Pasco (c), 11 ⁠Rafe Witheat; 10 ⁠Louis Haley, 9 ⁠Jonny Weimann; 1 Tom Dye, 2 ⁠Rob Gaffan, 3 ⁠Sonny Tonga’uhia; 4 ⁠Tom Ross, 5 ⁠Ollie Hull; 6 ⁠Kieran Perkins, 7 ⁠Rhys Harries, 8 Alfie Hoyles.

Replacements: 16 ⁠Ed Delaney, 17 ⁠Réon Gilbert-Joseph, 18 ⁠Aiden Ainsworth-Cave, 19 Mark Miska Alvarez, 20 ⁠Ben Currie, 21 Tom Addison, 22 Louis Burns.