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Exeter College secure place in NatWest Schools U18 Vase final

09 March 2014

  • Exeter College driving maul too strong for Wirral Grammar School
  • Devon side reach Twickenham for first time since 2005

Exeter College 17 Wirral Grammar School 13

Exeter College v Wirral Grammar School in the NatWest Schools U18 Vase semi-final

Photo: Capture the Event

Exeter College survived a late Wirral Grammar School barrage to reach the NatWest Schools U18 Vase final, after a 17-13 semi-final win at Allianz Park today (March 9).

Wirral started the brighter of the two sides with wing Sam Wicks making a couple of early breaks.

After dominating territory for an extended period, they saw some reward for their efforts with a well-struck Ben Brooks penalty.

When Exeter finally spent some time in the Wirral half they were ruthlessly efficient with flanker Ross Watts going over from a driving maul, after Wirral had prop Josh Edgar sent to the bin.

Wirral hit back almost immediately though when a powerful break from captain Tom Parry resulted in scrum half Jack Dixon scoring under the posts. Parry showed brilliant skill with a delicate offload out of the tackle to release Dixon.

Wirral extended their lead early in the second half with another penalty from Brooks, who had an assured day with the boot.

But Wirral possessed a lethal weapon in their armoury in their driving maul, and it was deadly once again when Watts was pushed over for his second try of the day.

The Exeter maul was predictable, and unfortunately for Wirral it was devastating. Five minutes later it was landed by Exeter once again, prop Matt Harris the scorer this time.

Brooks came agonisingly close to reducing the arrears with another well-struck penalty that clattered into the post.

Wirral threw everything at Exeter in the final ten minutes, but Exeter’s defence held firm and the Devon college will return to Twickenham for the first time since 2005.

Exeter College captain Billy Searle said: “I’m just relieved to get the win. We couldn’t get out of our 22 at the end there, but luckily we held on.

“The driving maul is a big part of our game plan. We’ve got a big, strong pack, so whenever we get into the opposition’s 22 we look to build on it, and it works for us.

“I just can’t wait to get to Twickenham now, it’s a dream come true!”

Wirral Grammar School head coach Phil Crowley added: “I’m obviously disappointed as we had a couple of chances at the end there, we had a couple of overlaps which we just didn’t spot.

“But in the end they were just too big and strong for us, and caused us too many problems with their driving maul.

“I’m proud of our boys' effort, though.”

There is more semi-finals action next week in the U15 Cup and Vase competitions, at Allianz Park – streamed live on

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: and

Wirral Grammar School

1 Jordan Price
2 Matt Ringer
3 Josh Edgar
4 Ben Eastwood
5 Matt Palphreyman
6 Jack Newton
7 Tom Parry
8 Harry Hawley

15 Kieran Sweeney
14 Sam Wicks
13 Aaron Drury
12 Louis McGilloway
11 Oliver Wedgwood
10 Ben Brooks
9 Jack Dixon

16 David Stringer
17 Andrew Woodworth
18 Matt Stewart
19 Lewis Beamish
20 Matt Herbison
21 Kieron Ivers
22 Matt Carrol

Exeter College

1 Matt Harris
2 George Gosling
3 Will Ellis
4 Brad Cooke
5 Adam Tregedeon
6 Ross Watts
7 Joe Burdon
8 Jack Rouse

15 Will Castleton
14 Jake Smith
13 Callum Gill
12 Patrick Jarman
11 Zac Ponsford
10 Billy Searle 
9 Tom Hyam

16 Tom Griffiths
17 Matt Wandford
18 Richard Germon
19 Harry Wright
20 Harvey Ridgeway
21 Karl Pearce
22 Owen Mugford