Under-Eighteen’s Natwest Schools Cup Semi-Finals

QEGS on their way to a fourth U18s #NatWestSchoolsCup Final
QEGS on their way to a fourth U18s #NatWestSchoolsCup Final

After a thrilling day of semi-finals, reigning champions Bromsgrove School will face Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Wakefield, in the final of the under-18 Natwest Schools Cup at Twickenham.

QEGS Wakefield saw off Warwick School in the 3 o’clock kick off on Saturday, securing a 21-12 victory at Allianz Park.

Bromsgrove qualified emphatically against Whitgift School, as they ran out 50-24 winners after the two teams scored 12 tries between them in front of a passionate crowd.

The Natwest School Cup competitions will be rounded up on finals day at Twickenham on Wednesday 16th March, with Bromsgrove looking to defend their U18 Schools Cup title against 3 time finalists QEGS Wakefield.

Warwick School 12 – 21 Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield

Loosehead prop Nathan Youngs breathed life in to a slow-burning first half after 16 minutes, with the QEGS forwards having proved their power with a number of drives towards the line.

Tom Stephenson’s penalty after 28 minutes took his tally of points to 50 in this season’s tournament, converting from the tee from the 22m line despite the strong winds, giving QEGS an 8-0 lead at halftime.

After the break, Warwick’s Joshua Grimes made a great break through the QEGS defence before shipping the ball out to Will Roberts to touch down in the corner under the challenge of Joe Gatus.

10 minutes later, Gatus scored a try of his own, making it 11 in this season’s tournament, after a great driving maul allowed scrum-half Sam Tovey to find Gatus on the overlap. Stephenson’s conversion didn’t have the distance to clear the crossbar.

QEGS fullback George Thompson then got in on the act, touching down in the corner after an excellent show of footwork to keep himself in play along the touchline.

Stephenson made amends for missing the conversion for Gatus’ try by slotting a penalty with 10 minutes remaining, taking the score to 21-5 in QEGS’ favour.

With a minute remaining, Warwick’s Jordan Ainsley scored a well worked allowing William Stride to add the extras, but it was too little too late to secure victory at Allianz Park.

QEGS Director of Rugby Trevor Barker said: “We knew we had to perform today. Warwick play a great brand of rugby but we had to impose ourselves on them today, and I think we did that.”

“There are a few boys who have had bitter disappointment at Twickenham and they’ll look to put that right. We’ll have a tough game, but we’ll play like it’s our last game, as we always do.”

Bromsgrove School 50 – 24 Whitgift School

The first score of many in this tie came after 3 minutes through Bromsgrove’s winger Cooper Bent, who showed great agility to avoid several tackles and stay in touch. From the touch line, George Wootten converted expertly.

With 16 minutes on the clock, man-of-the-match Henry Walker burrowed over the line from a yard out after sustained pressured from Bromsgrove, and Wootten converted well again.

Bromsgrove’s domination continued, with Blake Edwards next to touch down after finding a gap in the defence following a stint of 15 phases. Wootten took the score to 21-0.

Next up, Joe Morrice got his name on the score sheet after coming from the back of a strong driving maul. Wootten’s kick got caught in the strong breeze and rebounded off the post.

Cooper Bent then scored his second try of the game, yet again in the corner on the left wing as he danced along the touchline, before Harry Lloyd-Jones came from the back of a driving maul to score the sixth try of the half, and Wootten’s conversion made the score 38-0.

2 minutes in to the second half and Bromsgrove continued in the same vain, with Morrice scoring his second try of the game in similar fashion to his first.

Whitgift were able to give their fans something to cheer for having made the trip to Allianz Park however, as Funsho Ajayi displayed some excellent footwork before touching down emphatically with a somersault for his 12th try of the season.

6 minutes later, Beck Cutting found his second row colleague Lawrence Weston with a breath-taking one handed offload, before Weston crashed over the line. Number 8 Tom Ford converted, taking his side to 50 points.

In the final few minutes however, Whitgift scored the tries their valiant performance had deserved, with Sam Morley finding the gap in the Bromsgrove defence to dive for the line. Morley failed to convert his own try, as he saw his attempt hit the upright.

Two minutes later Whitgift were at it again, with Alex Hogg making a superb break before finding Fergus Donnelly on the right wing to slide across the whitewash. Morley slotted the conversion from out wide.

With the final play of the game, Whitgift scored the fourth of the game as their forwards pushed their way over the line. Morley converted with the final kick of the game, with the score settling at 50-24 in Bromsgrove’s favour.

Bromsgrove head coach and former Gloucester and Worcester Warriors prop, Tony Windo, was impressed with his side’s performance: “I think we showed a good balance in our game, we showed a good physical element with our driving play, but also played some good, expansive rugby at the same time.”

“[Whitgift] showed a tremendous amount of character. There’s a lot of boys there that should be very proud of what they’ve achieved today and they’ve demonstrated at the end of it that they are a class side.”

Bromsgrove School will look to defend their Natwest Schools U18 Cup title against Queen Elizabeth Grammar School at Twickenham on the 16th of March.