Sale Sharks AASE show pre-season promise
On Wednesday 5th September, Sale Sharks AASE Academy, based at Myerscough College, travelled to Sixways Stadium in Worcester (home to AVIVA Premiership side Worcester Warriors) to compete in the RFU AASE Rugby Union Festival.
The AASE (Achieving Academic & Sporting Excellence) programme has been specifically designed to give recognition to talented rugby players, as part of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) aim to develop excellence in Rugby. Myerscough College is the accredited Rugby Football Union College and Elite Player Development Centre for the North-West, run in partnership with Sale Sharks Rugby.
The programme aims to support young elite rugby players (aged 16-18 at the start of the programme) who can demonstrate the necessary talent, commitment and skill to achieve excellence in rugby and who possess a realistic chance of making a career from playing rugby. Students on the AASE programme train and live like professional players whilst completing academic qualifications at the same time.
The AASE Festival sees the 12 UK colleges involved in the AASE programme come together for a friendly pre-season tournament. For many players, it is their first taste of elite AASE Rugby and an event that can set the tone for the season ahead. The tournament format sees each AASE team play three 30 minute fixtures.
Sharks AASE had a stern test in their first game as they faced Saracens AASE, but ran out eventual 15-10 winners with tries from 17 year old Tim Jeffers from Warrington, and two superb solo tries from Preston Grasshoppers Winger, 17 year old Ben Rhodes Powers.
London Irish provided opposition for Sharks AASE in the second game of the day. Despite a strong start from Irish, Sharks AASE opened the scoring with a powerful display for the newly formed pack, bundling the ball over from short range to take a 5-0 lead. Early in the second half, London Irish levelled the game at 5-5 before running over the line in the final minutes to claim a 10-5 victory.
Sharks AASE final game against Newcastle Falcons AASE was a high-scoring affair. Scoring their first try within two minutes after winger Michael Annells produced a superb solo run down the left wing to opening the scoring. In the second half, Sharks AASE forwards began to dominate their North-East opponents.
Sharks second try came minutes into the second half after a fluid move was finished by Sharks AASE new boy, centre Sam Kendal. Minutes later and Kendal smashed through his opposite number from close range to claim his second try - but Kendal wasn't finished as he scored again to claim an impressive hat-trick in 15 minutes on his first appearance for Sharks AASE. A further try from Craig Ennis sealed a very impressive 25-10 victory in the final game.
With two wins from three games and an impressive performance in their only defeat, Sharks AASE looked like a team that had been playing together longer than a single week! For Myerscough's elite junior players, the season ahead looks promising after a solid performance at the AASE festival. The first AASE league game for Sharks against Saracen's kicks off at 3pm on Wednesday 12th September.
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