St John’s School Leatherhead resisted a late comeback by Glyn School to record a 28-20 victory in the U15 Schools Vase, London & South-East A Regional Final.
Although separated by only a short drive along the A24, these two schools play on largely different circuits with no common opponents this season, so a result was hard to predict. St John’s had come through the fourth round with a narrow win over a previously unbeaten Merchant Taylor’s side, snatching victory in the closing minutes, while Glyn had enjoyed a largely untroubled progression to the fifth round.
After the home side had kicked off, Glyn enjoyed the bulk of possession in the first ten minutes, with their tactics focussed on driving through their forward pack, while St John’s looked to use any possession to move the ball through the hands. An interception by centre Owen Rowlands gave Glyn a glimpse of an opening and possession was retained by the forwards, but they were penalised, giving St John’s the opportunity to set up a line-out on the right. Although an initial phase was unsuccessful, possession was retained through two further set pieces, and, after winning at attacking line-out on the right and setting up a driving maul, good handling created an overlap for left wing Charlie R who squeezed in at the corner for the opening score. Full back George P produced a tremendous conversion from the touchline to add the extras.
Although St John’s successfully ran out the restart to half way, possession was lost and Glyn retained possession through several phases before putting up a box kick, but the referee had spotted runners in front of the kicker and awarded a penalty to St John’s. Winning the ensuing line-out on half way, St John’s built good field position and, although possession was lost, the clearance kick by Glyn was run back with the ball moved wide on the left. After pressure by the forwards, St John’s won a scrum in the left corner and No 8 Ollie M picked up from the base. Multiple drives towards the line by the forwards looked certain to produce another score, but excellent Glyn defence kept them at bay, eventually forcing a penalty. The respite was temporary, as St John’s forced a turnover on the 22 and drove through the forwards winning an attacking scrum on the right. With the set piece won, scrum half Luc G worked the blind side, and, although he was stopped just short on the line, he offloaded successfully and Ollie M crashed over for the second score, George P landing another excellent touchline conversion.
Failure to secure the restart is a problem at all levels of Rugby, and St John’s found themselves under pressure when they were penalised, allowing Glyn to set up an attacking line-out on the right inside the 22. The ensuing driving maul was effective, taking play to within 5m of the line, and sustained pressure by the forward pack saw tight head prop Seleka Adikari force his way over, Rowlands adding the conversion.
Half-time: St John’s School Leatherhead 14-7 Glyn School
Having narrowed the deficit just before the interval, Glyn began the second half in positive fashion, fly half Will Archer making ground in midfield. Although St John’s were able to recover possession, their clearance kick was run back to the 22 by the Glyn forwards and the home side were forced to concede a penalty. With plenty of time on the clock, the decision was made to go for the points and Rowlands’ kick from the tee duly bisected the posts to put the visitors within one score.
After both sides had exchanged kicks good handling by St John’s on the right applied pressure, forcing a penalty which was kicked to the right corner. With possession won, it was the home side’s turn to use their driving maul. That was stopped and successive thrusts by the forwards close to the line were stopped by tenacious defence, but possession was retained and Luc G switched play to his right, finding Josh PR on the blind side and the fly half plunged over for his side’s third try. George P made it a hat-trick of touchline conversions.
When Glyn were again penalised shortly after the restart, the next score came directly from the ensuing set piece, with clean ball won from a line-out on the left, and Luc G showed excellent pace to find a great line and cut through, just managing to reach the line as he was pulled down by the cover defence. George P maintained his unerring form from the tee.
Glyn quickly set about reducing the three score deficit, moving the ball through the hands on the left, and Captain and No 8 Artie Thompsett forced his way over in the corner. The difficult conversion attempt was well struck but unsuccessful. Winning a scrum on half way following the restart, Glyn recycled possession, choosing to run a penalty. When a second penalty was soon forced, Glyn kicked to the left corner but the ball went dead, giving St John’s a drop-out. However, good field position was maintained and another tapped penalty was moved through the hands to the right corner where second row Jake Bowe crashed over. The touchline conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
With time running out it seemed unlikely that Glyn could manage two further scores. They continued to work hard to reduce the deficit, Thompsett carrying effectively in midfield, but they were unable to get into scoring position and the referee soon blew for full time, with the difference on the scoreboard represented by George P’s flawless place kicking display.
St John’s will await the quarter final draw with keen interest. Glyn face several Easter term block fixtures, with a tough match-up against Whitgift next.
Full-time: St John’s School Leatherhead 28-20 Glyn School
By Peter Crawshaw
St John’s Leatherhead: Rupert T, Otto D (C), Jack O, Joe M, Joe C, Zac TH, Jonny P, Ollie M, Luc G, Josh PR, Charlie R, Archie O (VC), Josh B, Tom D, George P
Replacements: Ryder G, Buster O, Liam B, Reiss C. Luke I, Jacob C
Glyn: Oli Wileman, Louis Vincent, Seleka Adikari, Josh Cox, Jake Bowe, Max Carmichael, Rowan Sweeney (VC), Artie Thompsett (C), Jai Graham, Will Archer, Archie Taylor-Moore, Owen Rowlands, Elliot Thomas, Laurence Dennis, Charlie Taylor
Replacements: Ross McLean-Anderson, Joe Clark, James Colclough