28 March 2007
Warwick School 24
Barnard Castle School 23
There was joy for Warwick School but familiar heartache for Barnard Castle School in a superb Daily Mail Under-18 Schools Cup final at Twickenham today.
Warwick held their nerve to claim the title in their first final appearance but Barnard Castle again had to make the long trip home empty-handed after they suffered their third final defeat in five seasons. Barnard Castle were beaten by Oakham in 2004 and Colston's the following year.
Captain Charlie Hayter was Warwick's hero as he scored the try that secured victory just six minutes from time and decided a see-saw contest in which the lead changed hands four times.
Hayter also opened the scoring with a drop goal after barely a minute as Warwick hit Barnard Castle hard at the start of each half and were then forced to defend for long periods as the Durham School hit back strongly.
Mark Nasey, Warwick's director of rugby, said: "It ended up being a real celebration of schoolboy rugby.
"Barnard Castle had real quality and the score changed hands four times. The one point margin reflected the difference between the teams. It was that close.
"We had very tight games in our semi-final and quarter-final and that stood us in good stead.
"It has been a wonderful experience, The support has been superb and the boys have bought into everything we have tried to do.
"We have a huge amount of depth in rugby at the school now and we would like to consolidate on this win and become one of the top ten rugby schools in the country."
For Barnard Castle's coach Martin Pepper there was more disappointment.
"We just needed a bit more composure because we had the fire power out wide. We just didn't control the ball enough.
"The boys are in bits in the changing room. It is the third time we have lost in a final in five seasons and there are more tears this time.
"We have got to learn from this. We just need to be more clinical."
Warwick looked in relaxed mood which was hardly surprising because they had spent the morning on a sight-seeing trip to central London to take their minds off the game.
They were quick out of the blocks with Hayter slotting a superb drop goal with barely 80 seconds on the clock.
Barnard Castle were not allowed time to regroup as Hayter and left wing Sam Miller, a Midlands Under-16 player, combined superbly and the Durham side were forced to concede a penalty under pressure.
Ryan McCrickerd, pushed up to fly-half from centre to replace David Johnston who broke a wrist in the semi-final, calmly kicked the penalty to double Warwick's lead.
A late challenge on Warwick's right wing Edward Gillespie put McCrickerd in range again and the fly-half made no mistake with another well-struck penalty.
Barnard Castle hit back with a drop goal from fly-half Rory Clegg, who is in England's squad for the AER Under-18 Championships which get underway in Biarritz this weekend. Clegg struck after a patient build-up from his forwards.
That score appeared to settle Barnard Castle who took the lead for the first time when Adam McKenzie came off the left wing and opened up Warwick's defence with a cleverly-angled run which just took him to the line.
Clegg added the conversion and then added a penalty though Warwick began to assert themselves at the end of the first half thanks to some hard work from blindside flanker David Askew.
Warwick began the second half as they had the first by taking the game to Barnard Castle and they regained the lead within five minutes of the restart.
A controlled forward drive shunted Barnard Castle backwards and hooker Sam Collins emerged from a heap of bodies to claim the try. McCrickerd made a difficult conversion look easy, much to the delight of Warwick's army of supporters, which included MJK Smith, the former England rugby and cricket double international. Smith's son Neil, a former Warwickshire and England cricketer, now works as a rugby and cricket coach at Warwick.
Having played a loose kicking game in the first half, Warwick were much more disciplined in the second and they used their forwards to keep the pressure on.
McCrickerd punished Barnard Castle again when he landed his third penalty but Warwick then found themselves under pressure at the other end. They repelled a couple of determined attacks from Barnard Castle's pack but conceded penalties in the process.
England Under-18 number eight Calum Clark eventually drove over and Clegg landed a difficult conversion to reclaim the lead.
Warwick threatened to hit straight back with a try of their own but they turned over possession close to the line which allowed Barnard Castle to launch a devastating counter-attack. Only a last-ditch tackle by Gillespie on Rhys Thomas by the cornerflag denied them.
But Barnard Castle came again and Clegg ensured that their pressure was rewarded when he put over his second drop goal eight minutes from time.
But Warwick regained their composure and the lead within three minutes when they opted to run a kickable penalty and Hayter weaved through for an opportunist try which McCrickerd narrowly failed to improve from close to touch.
The drama was still not over. Clegg put in a hanging crossfield kick in the fifth minute of injury-time which flanker Alex Gray gathered. Barnard Castle claimed the try, but referee JP Doyle ruled that he had been held up by 15-year-old Miller.
The other results on Daily Mail Schools days were: Under-15 Vase final: Woodhouse Grove School 22 Solihull School 3.
Under-15 Cup final: Lymm HS 20 St Paul's School, Barnes 15.
Under-18 Vase final: Ermysteds GS 3 Wilmslow HS 0.
Warwick School: Mike Stevens; Edward Gillespie, Tom Grimes, Charlie Hayter (captain), Sam Miller; Ryan McCrickerd, William Matthews; Christoper Kroeger, Sam Collins, Joshua Greig, Bruce Storey, Jamie Collins, David Askew, William Turner, Christopher Cathcart. Replacements: Thomas Maggs, Guy Gilleard, Sean McCarthy, Ed Dixon, Mike Hazelton, Joshua Beebee, James Williams.
Barnard Castle School: Matthew Lister; Jonny Bartlett, Rhys Thomas, Ian Hodgson, Adam McKenzie; Rory Clegg, Andrew Seddon; Jamie Johnston, Luke Fletcher, Will Young, Will Stewart, Andrew Mason, Alex Gray, Calum Clark (captain), Sean Dougall. Replacements: Graeme Seddon, Jose Hopkins, Fred Moore, Scott Robertson, Josh Waldin, Tom Catterick, Jack Frater.
Referee: Mr JP Doyle (RFU)