Whitgift soared into the U18 Schools Cup final with a stupendous 57-15 victory over Marlborough College at Allianz Park.
The Croydon side, who won back to back titles in 2010 and 2011, will now face current back to back champions Warwick at Twickenham in the showpiece final on Wednesday 20th March after the reigning champions beat Woodhouse Grove in the earlier game.
It was truly a brilliant performance from Whitgift, a powerful and intense period either side of half time really killing the game as they scored tries in the minute either side of the half, followed by two further scores in the next tend minutes after the break.
It took the game in that short period of time from a close 14-10 scrap to a comfortable 38-10 lead, all done despite losing star man Harry Dugmore to the sin bin for a high tackle in the middle of that period. The star man on the day though was left wing Charlie Cadogan, who scored a superb hat-trick on the way to a stunning victory for his side.
Marlborough College actually got off to a strong start, flying out of the traps and scoring within three minutes of the kick off when scrum half Will Cook scuttled over. It really set the pattern for the first half to follow as the half turned into an open one as a result.
Whitgift were not behind for long, as Charlie Cadogan pounced on a loose ball at a Marlborough ruck to hack ahead, racing away to score on the left hand side. The metronomic Ben Fitzgerald knocked over the conversion to give Whitgift a 7-5 lead with ten minutes gone.
That lead was extended further when Fitzgerald himself flew over for one of the tires of the day as inside centre Niall McGann took the ball to the line off the set piece before releasing Charlie Beckett to break the line. Beckett then floated the ball out to Fitzgerald to race home, converting his own try, naturally, for a 14-5 lead.
Marlborough were causing problems themselves though, pouncing on Whitgift penalties to seize territory and then putting the pressure on Whitgift’s line. They were rewarded for that endeavour when they pumped the ball into the corner and set up the maul from the resulting lineout, hooker Arthur Hardwick the one to emerge from the pile of bodies with the ball, closing the gap to 14-10.
The Wiltshire side were gaining some momentum, but it is in those moments that big players make big plays and Harry Dugmore did just that putting in a huge hit to force Marlborough to spill the ball and his fly half Ed Dunford gobbled up the loose ball to stroll over and send his team in 19-10 to the good at half time.
That try was the catalyst for a flurry of scores after the break that really sealed the game for Whitgift before Marlborough had really had a chance to respond. Within a minute of a restart scrum half Tom Berger had scorched over for Whitgift, Fizgerald converting. Then tighthead prop Aristot Benz-Solomon, part of last year’s U15 Cup winning side, showed real pace to score on the right hand side, finishing off a wonderful counter-attacking break from fly half Ed Dunford. Fitzgerald’s conversion just missed, but suddenly his side were 31-10 up.
31-10 would quickly become 38-10 when Cadogan raced over for his second try of the game and then seven minutes later he showed that he is not just about speed, he has real finishing prowess too, as he sealed his hat-trick, cutting inside the defence sharply and helping his team to a 45-15 lead with Fitzgerald’s conversion.
Credit to Marlborough though, while the game was realistically over as a contest and with a lot of time to go they kept having a go and were rewarded by a try through Luke Clarke.
However Whitgift simply kept on coming back at them in waves, first a lovely try through Charlie Beckett before substitute Clem Li-Raphael surged over for the final try of the game, sealing a quite stunning 57-15 triumph.
It was truly sensational from Whitgift, who will head to Twickenham absolutely bursting with confidence after such a majestic performance. Eight tries under the pressure of a semi final is a superb achievement, one that will surely leave their U15 side, who tomorrow play their semi final and are looking for back to back titles, full of excitement about what they could achieve too.
Marlborough College will be hurting, no doubt, but should take heart. It has been a wonderful season and today they came up against a side that has consistently proved to be one of the best in the country throughout this season.
For Whtigift, thoughts turn to Twickenham and the back to back champions. If the evidence at Allianz Park is anything to go by we are set for a final between two genuinely outstanding teams. It is not to be missed!
Full Time: Whitgift 57-15 Marlborough College
15 Ben Fitzgerald, 14 Ioan Parry, 13 Charlie Beckett, 12 Niall McGann, 11 Charlie Cadogan, 10 Ed Dunford, 9 Tom Berger, 1 Bertie Heaver, 2 Joe Vajner, 3 Aristot Benz-Solomon, 4 Max Greatwood, 5 Ross Sharpe, 6 Harry Dugmore, 7 Oliver Norris, 8 Harry Breeze.
Replacements: 16 Ben Donnelly, 17 Jimmy Willson-Rosell, 18 Joe Hubner, 19 Gabriel Seriki, 20 Harvey Cutmore, 21 Felix Gilbert, 22 Clem Li-Raphael.
15 Louis De Hennin, 14 Harry Brooks, 13 Harry Foster, 12 Jack Waters, 11 Oscar Waters, 10 Billy James, 9 Will Cook, 1 Ryan Piper, 2 Arthur Hardwick, 3 Christian Freeman, 4 Max Staples, 5 Ed Abbott, 6 Charlie Cooke, 7 Jude Fry, 8 Toby Hargrove (c).
Replacements: 16 Henry Di Monaco, 17 Dylan Murray, 18 Luke Clarke, 19 Will Mllar, 20 Lucas Cloves, 21 Felix Henderson, 22 Henry Adamson.