Tom Roebuck gave full credit to Harlequins’ physical prowess after his Sale Sharks team succumbed to a 31-15 defeat on Premiership Rugby Under-18s Academy League Finals Day.
The England Under-18s winger scored after teammate Josh Hadland had initially given Sharks the lead but excellent kicking from Quins throughout secured a deserved fifth-place for the London side.
And Roebuck, who has appeared for the Sharks first XV already this season, thinks his side were more clinical in the match at Allianz Park.
“I thought it was a really physical game – a bit scrappy at times,” he said.
“Both teams took their opportunities when they could and Quins were just too good not to come out with the win in the end.”
Quins took a slim 15-10 lead into the break, which they extended to a 16-point advantage before Roebuck’s score closed the gap midway through the second period.
The winger has been offered a senior contract and credits the academy for his development.
He said: “We’ve really loved the past four years in the academy – every coach has been brilliant.
“Moving onto the first team now, we’re really looking forward to pushing on and seeing what we can do in an adult environment.”
Teammate Raffi Quirke, who will also be moving into the senior side, was equally upbeat about his new environment.
He has enjoyed the attacking brand of rugby they have played with the team this year, which they tried to show in the final.
He said: “It’s been great in the academy – there’s a lot of freedom to try new things and hopefully we can bring that into the first team next year.
“When we played wide and put some pace into our play we really looked threatening.”
Academy coach Warren Spragg was pleased with the way his team had come on through the season, which included a tightly-fought 27-24 loss to eventual champions Leicester Tigers.
Spragg added: “The Premiership competition is short and intense, and the short turnaround is a good insight into professional rugby.
“The players enjoy testing themselves, and they really benefit from this competition. The pressure of Finals Day, with press coverage and all eyes on them, will help prepare them.”