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Royals reach semi-finals and prepare for grudge match

PUBLISHED: 15:17 20 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:08 05 October 2010

EAST London Royals Under-15 are ready for a Final Four grudge match against Manchester later this month after advancing to the semi-final stage of the play-offs last weekend. The Royals resisted a second-half fightback by Newham Youngbloods to prevail 56-

EAST London Royals Under-15 are ready for a Final Four grudge match against Manchester later this month after advancing to the semi-final stage of the play-offs last weekend.

The Royals resisted a second-half fightback by Newham Youngbloods to prevail 56-49 in the quarter-final showdown and book their place in the tournament finals, which take place at RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire, on March 29.

Dwayne Allen scored a game-high 13 points for the Royals, who led 38-13 at half-time, but failed to maintain their momentum in the second half.

"We built up a good lead at half-time, but unfortunately we took our foot off the gas and let Newham back into the game," said Royals coach Humphrey Long.

"Some of the reserve players that went in didn't perform nearly as well as the starters, and we found it difficult to pick up the pace again.

"But we did win the game, and winning is the most important thing."

Michael Akinola and Samuel Odejimi each added nine points and Teddy Okerofor bagged an eight-point haul for the Royals, who meet tournament favourites Manchester for a place in the play-off final.

Manchester won the same age group last year, eliminating the Royals in a quarter-final nail-biter, but Long is optimistic that his team can gain a measure of revenge this time.

"It's a bit like Manchester United playing Chelsea, because it's two of the top teams in the country," Long said. "Manchester will be favourites, but we can win."

The Royals Under-14 also reached the next round of the play-offs with a straightforward 71-55 defeat of Haringey Warriors.

Lithuanian Simonas Bublys led the way with 19 points, and East London extended a six-point half-time lead despite Joseph Odejimi fouling out in the fourth quarter.

Barry Bramble added 15 points for the Royals and Manaf Umaru scored 10 points to set up a second-round meeting with Brighton Cougars on March 29.

The Royals Under-16 team will also be in action that weekend as they begin their play-off campaign at Spelthorne.

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