Northumberland Under-20s are playing for a place at Twickenham on Sunday when they travel to Gloucestershire in the semi-finals of the County Championship.
The winner of their Cinderford skirmish will meet either Yorkshire or Kent at Rugby HQ on Sunday May 4, coach Scott Powell pleased by the evolution of his squad.
The Westoe No 8 said: “We started off with a trial game between the club players and the university players from which we picked our squad for the group campaign and began that with a win at Cheshire.
“From there the lads had a lot of confidence going into the Lancashire game at Preston Grasshoppers, where we played really well, and even with a 44-41 defeat to a good Yorkshire in our home match we went through in decent shape.
“We learnt a lot from that game, and a number of the lads are used to playing university rugby where it is high-tempo and there is always plenty of space.
“Against good players at county level that is not always going to be the case, so we learnt to play in the right areas.
“We then we went to Eastern Counties a fortnight ago, who we beat pretty comfortably, and there is a good feeling among the lads.”
Hoping his side’s preparations will be unaffected by late injuries, Powell added: “We picked the team last weekend, but pretty much all of them are playing club games tomorrow so we will be waiting by the phone to see if they all come through unscathed.
“We have quite a few from Tynedale, Percy Park and Westoe, and lads spread right around the county, really.
“We are travelling the night before the game to give us the best preparation possible and the county have been really good with that in avoiding six hours on a bus the morning of the match.”
Expecting a stern test in the West County, the coach said: “We have done a bit of research on Gloucestershire and some of our lads know people who played against them earlier in the competition.
“It sounds like they are a little bit like ourselves with a good scrum and a decent pack, we have trained well and will be looking to work the wide channels with the pace we have in our squad.”