Saracens under 18's hold off Alfie Barbeary-inspired Wasps to clinch third place
Two tries from skipper Alfie Barbeary narrowly failed to prevent Saracens clinching a 21-19 Premiership Rugby Under-18s Academy Finals Day win over Wasps.
First-half tries from Sarries' Jamie Hoyes and Kapeli Pifeleti cancelled out Barbeary’s early score for Wasps, while Manu Vunipola, cousin of England internationals Mako and Billy, was solid from the tee.
Recent 1st XV debutant Sam Spink responded to Pifeleti’s second score by pulling a try back for the black-and-gold youngsters, and when Barbeary then also doubled his tally, the stage was set for a grandstand finish.
But despite late Wasps pressure, the Fez Heads held on and in the process ensured they claimed the third-place play-off spoils.
Wasps took an early lead following great work by their forwards with a driving maul from just outside the Saracens 22 finished off by hooker Barbeary.
The hosts responded quickly with a neat move down the right flank, which culminated in Hoyes running through to score under the posts, with Vunipola adding the extras.
Wasps stepped up their offensive pressure towards the end of the first half, Barbeary again threatening the Saracens line out wide. But the men-in-black defended well, winning turnovers and keeping their opponents at bay at crucial moments.
And in the closing minutes of the half Saracens found some territory of their own and Pifeleti exploited a pocket of space to score and increase their interval advantage to 14-5.
Pifeleti showed his strength again shortly after the interval to claim a second try and put Saracens in a commanding 21-5 lead.
But Wasps hit back almost immediately kicking ahead and capitalising on the bounce of the ball for inside centre Spink to score.
With 11 minutes remaining, Barbeary scored his second try of the game and Charlie Atkinson’s conversion brought Wasps to within two points.
A late penalty then gave Barbeary the chance to attack again, but he was denied a match-clinching hat-trick by some solid Sarries defence.
Wasps: Simonds, Atta, Anderson Spink, Bacon, Atkinson, Kay, Nearchou, Barbeary, Harris, Ademuwagun, Mawdsley, Curran, Stoker, Jakobsen
Replacements: Delaney, Pleasants, Roche, Vickers, Pill, Chilcott, Pietersen, Young
Saracens: Bliss, Jimoh-Ibrahim, Hoyes, Watson, Bluck, Vunipola, Petrozzi, Crean, Pifeleti, Beaton, Stonham, Boon, Benson, Taylor, Scopes
Replacements: Dan, Harris, Sturge, Cook, Mahoney, Hazelton, Barton Morris
Tries: Barbeary 2, Spink
Conversions: Atkinson 2
Tries: Hoyes, Pifeleti 2
Conversions: Vunipola 3