- Dulwich edge past RGS High Wycombe to reach third consecutive final
- Watch all of the semi-finals action on www.rfu.com/rfutv
Dulwich College 7 RGS High Wycombe 3
Photo: Capture the Event
Dulwich College became only the second school in the history of the Schools Cup to reach three finals in a row after they held on for a dramatic 7-3 victory against RGS High Wycombe in the NatWest Schools U18 Cup semi-final at Allianz Park today (March 8).
For all the speed and panache of the first semi-final, this was Cup rugby for the purists as both RGS and Dulwich looked to knock lumps out of each other.
RGS had the first big opportunity of the match when monstrous wing Jordan Coupland almost put Ross Neal over, but the centre was tackled into touch.
Dulwich were let down by ill-discipline with the penalty count racking up against them, and halfway through the first half prop Josh Ibuanokpe was sent to the bin for dissent.
RGS began to exert pressure, and almost scored again through replacement Jack Statham, but once again the Dulwich defence scrambled well to stop a try.
The deadlock was eventually broken by a brilliantly struck Ben Wood penalty five minutes before the break (3-0).
Two minutes later another yellow card was brandished by referee Paul Kimber with Dulwich captain Felix Maddison sent to the bin after repeated team infringements.
Dulwich’s best attacking moment of the half came through a Pierre Thompson break, but the scrum half was penalised for holding on.
RGS number eight Alex Murphy was then sent to the bin on the stroke of half-time to bring the yellow card total to three at the break.
The Dulwich maul has served the South London school well over the years, and it came to the rescue again early in the second half when Kimber awarded them a penalty try after RGS had pulled the maul down.
The try resulted in a visible drop in the RGS body language as handling errors crept into their performance.
Dulwich’s defence for their part was outstanding; their use of the Irish choke tackle forced a number of turnovers and sapped the energy from RGS attacks.
But RGS High Wycombe fly half Wood took the game by the scruff of the neck with some bulldozing runs, which saw them find some territory in the Dulwich 22. After a couple of well-manufactured driving mauls, Dulwich prop Dom Fernandes was sent to the bin for pulling a maul down.
If that wasn’t enough drama, another Dulwich prop, Josh Ibuanokpe, was then shown a red card after receiving a second yellow for a tip tackle, bringing referee Kimber’s card total to five on the day.
RGS then unleashed everything they had on the Dulwich line. A tense final couple of minutes saw the Wycombe school go within a whisker of scoring on several occasions but Dulwich held on and remain unbeaten at U18 level in the Cup, joining Colston’s School as the only other school to reach three finals in a row.
Dulwich Head of Rugby Sam Howard said: “The penalty try was crucial as they had quite a few kickable penalties with 10 or 12 minutes to go. I'm surprised that they did not take the points, and pleased. Getting that seven points as opposed to five was huge.
“When we actually did what we said that we would do – go outside the 13 channel, as we did in the first half a couple of times – that worked. Also when we picked and went straight through the middle of them.
“We just kept giving penalties away, and that killed us. The breakdown was very messy – there were not that many penalties given for offside. But the defence was heroic. How many lineout drives did they have at the end? The boys were outstanding. For them to go out and defend like that against arguably the biggest pack in the country was outstanding.
“I've never seen as many boys cry after a game of rugby they have won. They are all in tears, because I think it was such a surprise and the manner of it. That is the first time we have shown that defence this season.
An emotional Head of Rugby at RGS High Wycombe Simon Copeland added: ”It did not go our way this time.
“We have won quite a few close encounters this season, particularly in the Cup. This time it did not go quite right for us.
“Fair play to Dulwich – their defence was just phenomenal, under huge pressure from us. To be fair I think we just panicked and the lads know that now, that we lost our heads a little bit in terms of not thinking straight.”
There is more semi-final action next week in the U15 Cup and Vase competitions, at Allianz Park – streamed live on www.rfu.com/natwestschoolscup
U15 Cup – Saturday, March 15
Whitgift School v QEGS Wakefield - 12pm
Warwick School v Wellington College - 2pm
U15 Vase – Sunday, March 16
Altrincham Grammar School v Lymm High School - 12pm
Graveney School v St George’s College, Weybridge - 2pm
Finals - Twickenham Stadium - Saturday, March 29
U15 Vase: 11am
U15 Cup: 12.30pm
U18 Vase: 2pm
U18 Cup: 3.40pm
Entry is free
You can also follow the competition here: www.facebook.com/natwestrugby and twitter.com/SchoolsCup.
RGS High Wycombe
15 Max Roddick
14 Louis Pow
13 Jake Banton
12 Ross Neal
11 Jordon Coupland
10 Ben Wood
9 Owen Bennett
1 Oli Butler
2 Andrew Burnett
3 Will Gavin
4 Will Taal
5 Fred Owen
6 Rahat Choudhury
7 Alex Murphy
8 Jack Statham
16 Greg Speakman
17 Tom Murphy
18 Joey Speed
19 Paddy Harlow
20 Tom Pearce
21 Mike Hemmings
22 Sam Spargo
15 Ali Neden
14 Omar Malik
13 Jacopo De Simone
12 Jo Charnley
11 Anthony Nzegwu
10 Matt Beese
9 Pierre Thompson
1 Josh Ibuanopke
2 Omar Nasir
3 Dom Fernandes
4 Hector McKimm
5 Funsho Olaleye
6 Tom Marchant
7 John Winter
8 Felix Maddison
16 Andrew Baron
17 Charlie Dee
18 Sam Ounger
19 Luke Bliss
20 John Waughy
21 Ed Berry
22 Dan Britt