- Battle of the South West teams played out in tough conditions
- Wellington head into last four
Photo: RFU Archive
Wellington College coped well with windy conditions to overcome a six-point half-time deficit and clinch their NatWest Schools Cup U15 quarter-final against RGS High Wycombe 20-6.
These two sides know each other well, having drawn 5-5 in the block fixture last term, but Wellington probably started this game as slight favourites, having lost only to an Eton side that has carried all before it this season but unfortunately has not entered the Cup.
RGSHW came into the game after an excellent win the previous week over a highly rated Canford side. With the RGS school pitches still unfit, the game was played on the 3G at Maidenhead RFC. Thankfully, the torrential rain stopped shortly before the noon kick-off, but there remained a strong wind blowing down the ground.
RGS, with the wind behind them, got off to a dream start straight from the kick-off, when Wellington were penalised 30 metres out. Fly half Josh Gurton was successful from the tee to give his side an early three-point lead.
Wellington, looking strong in the set scrum, then released their backs to take play into the RGS half, and after an RGS pass had gone astray, they won a scrum five metres out from the line. Good hands saw the ball moved down the Wellington line to right wing Jack Sellors, but he was well tackled by RGS left wing Sibu Zulu.
Wellington continued to defy the head wind, running back RGS clearance kicks to maintain territorial advantage, and RGS were forced to reshuffle their back line, with inside centre Scott Clare injured and Zulu moving into the centre, replaced by Luke Ryall. Finally RGS broke out, and a series of penalties conceded by Wellington Gurton had the chance to extend the lead. He was again successful from 30m out.
With the wind now at their backs Wellington looked to the territorial advantage enjoyed in the first half into points. Morley was quick to use the wind to get great distance on a kick to set up a line-out close to the RGS 22, and play was again taken on by No.8 Josh Basham. Although a knock-on gave a scrum to RGS, Roddick’s attempted clearance kick was charged down, and RGS were penalised on their 22. Moss was on target from in front of the posts to halve the deficit.
With another Roddick kick taken straight out by the wind, Wellington kept up the pressure, and won a penalty on the right. Moss was again on target from the tee to level the scores. With the restart not going 10m, RGS were quickly again on the back foot, and a clean break by Wellington captain and open side flanker Matt Frost opened up the defence and an offload to Rory McMichael saw the outside centre cross under the posts for the game’s first try, Moss adding the simple conversion.
Although Handcock showed his pace to make ground down the left, Wellington were soon back into the RGS half. A Morley kick just ran through into the in-goal area, but with the drop-out going into touch on the full, an attacking scrum saw Wellington first move the ball right. Sellors was stopped short of the line, but a handling error by RGS gave Wellington another scrum inside the 22.
McMichael made ground to the left, and although he was stopped, quick ball from the ruck saw Morley link up with Moss, and the full back’s well-timed pass put Sellors clear to score in the right corner. Moss’s touchline conversion attempt was beautifully struck and cleared the crossbar to put Wellington 14 points clear.
With time running out, RGS made determined efforts to reduce the deficit, running penalties and bringing Handcock into play where possible, but Wellington continued to dominate at the breakdown.
Wellington were deserved winners on the day, controlling possession for most of the first half, and then producing some clinical finishing when they had the wind in their favour.
RGS High Wycombe: Sean West, Theo Simmonds, Cameron Logan, Tim Pope, Oliver Munby, Fred Jennings, Ben Ward, Matt Handcock, Freddie Roddick, Josh Gurton, Sibu Zulu, Scott Clare, Cameron Ryall, Gus Fowler, Oli Brown
Replacements: Alfie King, Jamie Kingston, Dominic Harris, Adam Phimister, Luke Ryall, Tobias Cathrall, Fabien Roberts
Wellington College: Max Cunningham, Henry Mason, Bertie Cole-Fontayn, Matt Edmondes, Louis Edmondes, Fritz Harding, Matt Frost, Josh Basham, Freddie Mackaness, Riordan Morley, Seb Cross, Ben Harrington, Rory McMichael, Jack Sellors, Dylan Moss
Replacements: Sam Galy, JJ Van Der Spuy, Charlie Jupp, James Naylor, Alex Shoff, Sam Sweetland, Frank Horsfield