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NatWest Schools Cup: Round 7 London & SE review

05 February 2014

  • Dulwich College and Hampton School secure U18 Cup quarter-final places
  • Newcomers Graveney School reach U15 Vase quarters
Whitgift School v New Hall in the U15 NatWest Schools Cup

Photo: RFU Archive

Defending NatWest Cup champions, Dulwich College secured their place in the quarter-finals with a hard-fought 15-5 victory over Trinity School.

With torrential rain impacting sport up and down the country, it took a last-minute venue change to Blackheath RFC’s 3G pitch to ensure that this fixture went ahead.

It was Dulwich who began the brighter, with an Ed Berry penalty giving the “home side” a 3-0 lead inside ten minutes. Trinity School responded with determined precision as winger Gabriel Ibitoye, showing a devastating turn of pace, collected a clever kick through to race away for the score. George Jackson was unable to add the extra points, leaving Trinity School with a narrow 3-5 lead.

Much of Dulwich College’s success over previous seasons has been built around powerful forward play, and in difficult conditions, the pack once again rose to the challenge, earning a penalty try from a driving maul that was on its way across the line, but for some cynical defending. Berry converted to extend the Dulwich lead.

It was the forwards who struck again for Dulwich before the half was out as second row Funsho Olaylaye crossed the whitewash to give Dulwich a formidable ten-point lead.

It’s fair to say that the second half didn’t quite live up to the expectation of the first, as a combination of a greasy surface and tiring nervous players, prevented any meaningful possessions. Dulwich College had the opportunity to add to their tally early on, but the scoreline would ultimately remain at 15-5, to see the home side continue their title defence.

The other London & South East representatives in the quarter-finals will be Hampton School, after they ground out a hard-fought 11-0 victory over Campion School.

With the 3g surface installed at Hampton at the beginning of the season for occasions like this, and weather like record-breaking rainfall in January, the determining factor in this NatWest Cup tie would be who could handle the occasion.

An early penalty from the ever-reliable boot of Rory Chatterton gave the home side a 3-0 lead. This was added to shortly before the half-time break through a Jacob Goss try.

Hampton School have prided themselves all season on a resolute defence and aggression at the breakdown, and these two traits were apparent throughout the match.

Having been on the receiving end of the pressure in the first half, Campion School began to assert some of their own in the second half. Wave after wave of attack battered at the Hampton defensive line. Declining the opportunity of three points when on offer, Campion instead went in search of a try.

It wasn’t to be, however, as Hampton held out and a Rory Chatterton penalty in the second half extended their lead to 11 and ensured the win.

In the U15 Cup competition, Whitgift School brought New Hall’s impressive cup run to an abrupt halt with a 28-10 victory over the Essex School. Tries from Jonathan Noon, Funsho Ajayi and Fergus Donnelly saw Whitgift on their way to victory, with Donnelly adding to his try with 13 points from the boot to bring his personal tally to 18.

Trinity School will be hoping that their U15 side enjoy more success than their U18s did, when they take on Reigate Grammar School this coming Thursday.

Vase competition specialists Ravenswood School sealed their U18 quarter-final place with a 33-15 win over Tiffin School. Meanwhile, Worth School take on Kent side St Olaves at Allianz Park with a place in the quarter-finals awaiting the victor.

In the U15 Vase, the fairytale story of Graveney School continues as they snuck past the London Oratory 7-5. For a school with no pitches and rugby not on the curriculum, they have defied all odds to be in touching distance of Twickenham’s hallowed turf.

St George’s School Weybridge proved their credentials as Vase contenders with a punishing 31-0 victory over Hurstpierpoint College. Tries came from Jack Walters (2), Demi Tola-Obembe, Marco Crawshaw and Ed Morrison to see them on their way.