- Whitgift School take Cup title at Twickenham
- England Under 18 centre Marland Yarde scored a hat-trick
Whitgift School 34-10 RGS Newcastle
England Under 18 centre Marland Yarde warmed up for the forthcoming Five Nations Tournament in Wales with a hat-trick of tries to take Whitgift to their first Daily Mail RBS Schools Under-18 Cup title at Twickenham Stadium.
Yarde, who has been in excellent form for England’s unbeaten Under 18s this season, scored twice before the break and added his third late in the second half to complete a comfortable victory for Whitgift against a game but outgunned RGS side.
But Yarde, who will join London Irish on an Academy contract next season, had little time to celebrate Whitgift’s win as he had to travel to Llandovery in West Wales to rejoin England’s squad ahead of Friday‘s game against Scotland.
"I have got a fair few tries this season but to get three at Twickenham was amazing,” Yarde said.
"But it’s not about me, it’s down to the effort of the team and the work of everybody.
"I am getting on board with London Irish next season and I’m looking forward to that. They have got a lot of good players like Delon Armitage and Topsy Ojo and I hope I can learn a lot from them."
Yarde was accompanied on the journey to Wales by his Whitgift team-mates Elliot daly and George Merrick and also RGS fly-half Joel Hodgson who had an unhappy afternoon.
Yarde scored his second try when he intercepted a stray pass from Hodgson just inside his own half. Hodgson then had a kick charged down which led to Whitgift lock Tom Archer galloping away and he was unable to deny Yarde his hat-trick when the centre stepped out of an attempted touchline tackle.
Hodgson did score RGS’s only try but that came in the last minute and was too late to stifle Whitgift’s celebrations. Whitgift, who had twice won the Under 15 Cup, were good value for their win and, as they had in their semi-final win over RGS High Wycombe, capitalised on opposition errors.
Yarde, a balanced and penetrative runner, featured prominently in the build up to Whitgift’s opening try and finished off the attack after Daly gave him space for an untroubled run-in. Daly added the conversion and then added a penalty.
It looked like being a romp when Yarde latched onto Hodgson’s pass and accelerated away for his second try which Daly also improved but Hodgson gave RGS a glimmer of hope with a 24th minute penalty.
Whitgift were reduced to 14 men by the sin-binning of flanker Herbie Butler for killing the ball but the advantage was lost by RGS when their powerful prop Fraser Balmain joined him in the sin-bin for a scrum offence.
Archer’s try five minutes into the second half, after hooker Charlie Hopkins charged down an attempted clearance by Hodgson, settled the game but there was still time for Whitgift to score two more tries.
Lawrence Okoye, a Jonah Lomu lookalike, powered over with two tacklers clinging on after Yarde had again made ground and offloaded in the tackle.
Yarde’s hat-trick try, scored with a run from from his own 22 and converted by Daly, increased RGS’s misery before Hodgson went over from close range and improved his own try from an acute angle to give their sizeable travelling support something to cheer.
RGS Newcastle’s defeat was their second in the final of this competition following a narrow reverse against Mount St Marys in 1994.
"We made too many mistakes," admitted RGS coach Andy Watt, who is in his first season in charge.
"But I was very proud of the way they stuck at it. There were a couple of turning points but if you look at possession and territory there was nothing in it."
Whitgift captain Charlie Hopkins said: "Our defence was slightly superior and we have worked hard all season on that.
"Credit to the forwards. They did their job and the backs finished things off. It was incredible walking up to collect the cup especially as my grandfather stopped me half-way up so I had to do a bit of catch-up."