Under-Eighteen’s Natwest Schools Vase Semi-Finals

Following their 12-28 victory St. Ambrose are through to the #NatWestSchoolsCup U18 Vase Final at Twickenham!
Following their 12-28 victory St. Ambrose are through to the #NatWestSchoolsCup U18 Vase Final at Twickenham!

Northampton School for Boys and St Ambrose College will face each other at Twickenham in the U18 Vase final having won the semi-final ties at Allianz Park.

Northampton edged past Bloxham School in the first tie of the Natwest Schools Vase semi-finals on Saturday, tying 20-20 but qualifying on the technicality of scoring the first try of the game.

St Ambrose eased past Pangbourne College at Allianz Park in the second fixture, with a dominant second half performance securing a win by 28 points to 12.

The Natwest Schools Cup competitions culminate on finals day at Twickenham on Wednesday 16th March, with Northampton and St Ambrose facing one another in the Under-18s vase final.

Northampton School for Boys 20 – 20 Bloxham School

Bloxham centre Jake Manning had put his side in to a 3-0 lead from the tee after 8 minutes, before Jake Johnson’s try took Northampton in to the ascendancy after a great lineout drive. Tom Holiday converted expertly from near the right hand touchline.

Loosehead prop Jake Diggin scored for Northampton in similar fashion to extend their lead, having had a key role in the first try, but managed to get his name on the score sheet at the second time of asking.

Shortly after the half time break, Bloxham’s George Barbery caught everyone off guard with a quick tap penalty, before Toby Chapman burrowed over from close range to bring his side back in to the tie.

On 57 minutes, Northampton’s Henry Timm misjudged an up-and-under from Manning, allowing Jack Briggs to make a great catch before kicking in to gear to reach the try line. Manning converted well to bring Bloxham within 3 points.

Moments later, Holiday kicked his second set of points of the game, converting the penalty to take Northampton 5 points clear, before Bloxham’s Will Beament was sent to the sin bin for tackling a man in the air at the restart.

With the last play of the game Bloxham’s Will Brown found George Grieve running on the outside, allowing him to crash over the line and level the tie up.

Manning faced the most poignant kick of his playing career, with the chance to take his school to Twickenham, but he sadly dragged it wide.

With the number of tries and completed conversions even, Northampton qualified for the final having scored the game’s first try, despite Bloxham’s best efforts to come back in to the game.

Speaking after the game, Northampton’s director of Rugby, Mark Lee, said: “I’m really proud of the boys, they did really well.”

“We’ve only got 4 boys who are in Year 13 and we’re a very small, light team, so we have to clear the break down quickly - which we did,” he continued.

 “Mindset and desire are the words we use, and I thought we had a great mindset and we certainly had plenty of desire and I think it was just enough to see us through.”

St Ambrose College 28 – 12 Pangbourne College

A quick start to the second semi-final tie saw St Ambrose’s Kieran Dunne opened the scoring with a try after 5 minutes, following a great break from scrum-half Tom Walsh.

Straight for the restart, however, Walsh’s opposite number James Costin-Pratt replied instantly as he showed his great turn of pace, and he powered through a number of tackles as he found his way from the back of a scrum to touch down in the corner.

St Ambrose regained their lead after 10 minutes though, with a great move from the backs finding Dunne on the right wing to score his second try of the game.

Dunne played a key role in St Ambrose’s third try on 22 minutes, as he found a long, looping pass out to Tom Hughes to crash over in the corner.

With all four conversions between the two teams being missed, the sides went in at half-time with the score at 15-5 in St Ambrose’s favour.

After the break, Jacob Daldry extended St Ambrose’s lead with three points for the tee.

On 47 minutes, Pangbourne were finally able to show the kind of form that got them to this stage of the tournament, as captain Cameron Golby-Barr made a darting run through several tackles, before finding a one-handed offload to Will Vaughan making the inside run to score their second try. Zac Leonard converted from in front of the posts.

St Ambrose’s fourth try came from the forwards after a powerful driving maul gained plenty of ground, allowing Ben Hughes to touch the ball down on 52 minutes. Daldry’s conversion attempt rebounded off the crossbar.

In the final few minutes, Tom Walsh scored the try that his man-of-the-match performance deserved, after Connor Booth broke from the back of a scrum before finding his scrum-half, as Walsh made a beeline for the corner to see the game end 28-12.

St Ambrose’s Head Coach, Paul Rush, said: “I’m very pleased, we’ve played really well. It was a tough game, especially in the first half but we controlled the second half so it was pleasing to come out with the win.”

Their side has needed help from the younger year groups, and Rush commended his younger players after the win: “The Fifth Form are great, we’ve needed them this year. We’ve had a lot of them step in so it’s a good age group – we should be alright for the next two years.”

“We watched the first semi-final and there was nothing in it, but we look forward to the day at Twickenham and it’ll be a first time for all the lads involved. We can’t wait.”

Northampton School for Boys will face St Ambrose College in the final of the Natwest Schools U18 Vase at Twickenham on the 16th of March.