Monday, 7 March 2011

Daily Mail RBS Cup: Whitgift squeeze past Wilmslow to face Oakham

Whitgift the current Under 18 Cup holders endured an almighty test at the hands of Wilmslow High School on Saturday to secure a back to back visit to Twickenham and a place in the final against Oakham School. Last year's Under 15 champions pushed Whitgift all the way as they responded to a 20-7 deficit at one stage to produce a late rally and ten unanswered points.

The Cheshire School had taken the lead through a long range interception try from captain, Ethan Harding with Whitgift levelling the score through Chris Crane's converted try. As anticipated, Elliot Daly who has been successfully mixing England Under 20 duty with his school commitments had a major bearing on the game. His penalty after the break was followed up by a slicing break through the Wilmslow defence to give his side a 20-10 lead. Wilmslow refused to give up as they tried to protect their unbeaten record. Another converted try by Harding, set up a last minute penalty opportunity to tie the scores but the kick just went wide. The young Wilmslow side will surely feature strongly next year and they must be already one of the favourites for the 2012 title.

It was another centre, this time, Charlie Walker for Oakham who proved to be the main difference in the other semi final, with Old Swinford Hospital not able to shackle the talents of the England Under 20 star. It was the Harlequins player who changed the course of the game eight minutes after half time with one of his trademark  breaks. From 30 metres, the young centre eluded four tackles with a string of sidesteps to touch down. Earlier he had launched a swift counter attack which resulted in a penalty in the Swinford Hospital 22 and it was his quick thinking from a tap penalty which resulted in a relatively straightforward try for winger, James Harris after a carefully crafted cross field kick.

It could have been very different for the courageous and hugely resilient Old Swinford Hospital side from Stourbridge. In fact thirteen points were on offer in the first ten minutes with Max Stelling missing two penalty attempts and the ball spilling over the Oakham line when a try beckoned. Their only try of the game came from a powerful catch and drive with scrum half Oliver Simcock finishing the move with a powerful charge to the line.

Despite exerting a good deal of pressure in the latter stages of the match, Old Swinford Hospital were unable to breach the Oakham line again and with Walker relieving the pressure with some fine kicking from hand a 17-10 victory was secured along with a place in the final for the first time since 2003. The Daly-Walker contest is a mouth watering prospect with Whitgift likely to be the favourites for the 6th April final.

In the Under 15 competition, two equally titantic semi finals saw Truro School and RGS High Wycombe emerge as this year's finalists. Truro stormed in to a 13-0 first half lead against Whitgift with tries from Tom Holdsworth and Oliver Hallworth only to be pegged back after the break as the the Surrey side fought back with two scores from Jubril Adamson  and Geddy Stringer to go 15-13 in front. In the end Truro just about kept their nerve, with centre Ned Warne kicking the side in to the final with a late penalty. In the dying minutes of the game the Cornish side were indebted to scrum half Rory Christopher who made a courageous match saving tackle on Adamson to maintain their four season unbeaten run.

RGS equally had to endure a second half surge from The Perse School after cruising in to a 15-0 lead. A controversial penalty try after a kick head along with a 60 metre run from winger, George Cloy pulled the Cambridge side back in to contention, but ultimately RGS were able to hold on to reach their first final since 1999 with a 15-14 victory.

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