Sale Sharks centre Cameron Redpath expressed his pride at reaching the Premiership Rugby U18 Academy Finals Day for the first time, despite losing out to Harlequins at Sixways on Thursday.
Sharks’ scrum-half Matt Sturgess crossed the tryline and Kieran Wilkinson kicked a penalty as Sale went 8-0 up, but Quins scored 20 unanswered points to take the title.
Luke James and winger Miles McDuffus each scored a try for Harlequins and Marcus Smith kicked a further ten points.
It was a tough result to take for the Sharks but Redpath admitted the better team won on the day.
He said: “We’ve had a very, very good season. Sale have never been to Finals Day before so to get here is a bit of an achievement on its own.
“Obviously, it would have been nice to come away with a win and be the champions of the whole tournament but we didn’t perform as well as we could have done.
— Sale Sharks (@SaleSharksRugby) February 16, 2017
“We had a few chances, especially early on, and we didn’t really take them in the end and I thought they just finished off their chances a little bit better.
“The try under the posts which was just a slip-off tackle and just little things that we didn’t really do well they did well and ended up them winning.
“We can all watch it back when we go back into training and see what we need to do better. We’ve got a lot of young people in there so we can come back, hopefully next year, and that’s an exciting thing.”
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) February 16, 2017
Academy manager Brendan Thomas was impressed with his young players despite the defeat and agreed that the competition gave his staff valuable time to assess who could earn a Sharks contract.
He added: “The players have been fantastic, a really mature bunch of kids, and they’ve risen to every challenge that we’ve given them.
“The tournament gives us an opportunity to look at the future possible signings coming through and we play in a particular way to make sure that everybody gets an opportunity to get their hands on the ball as you probably saw today, two sides just going at it.
“We can play more cagey if we wanted to but actually we want to give the lads the opportunity to express themselves and give them every opportunity of getting a contract.”
Tries: James, McDuffus
Conversions: Smith 2
Penalties: Smith 2
Sale Sharks 8