Langley School booked their place in the U18 Schools Vase final after a brilliant semi final performance against Dauntsey’s at Saracens’ Allianz Park.
On a day of close games full of tension, the Norwich school bucked the trend for a stunning SCORE victory over Dauntsey’s, who won the U15 version of this competition back in 2012.
Langley have looked like one of the strongest sides in this competition right from the very start, and they will face another strong side in the final in the form of Wirral Grammar School, who came through a really tough encounter against Ripon Grammar School.
Langley took the lead on 13 minutes through a penalty from fly half Tom Poole, but it was actually a pretty close, if open, opening quarter of the match. That was reflected seventeen minutes in when Dauntsey’s crossed the whitewash for their only points of the game as big second row Robert Andrews leap across the line, salmon like, to give his team a 5-3 lead.
From there though Norwich just built and built and built, slowly but surely increasing the pressure. When Dauntsey’s inside centre Rahul Patel saw yellow on twenty minutes for taking the man out in the air, the Norwich side sniffed their opportunity.
Sensing that now was the time to convert their pressure into points they hit their opponents with two quick tries. The first was a stunner as second row Hamish Kenward burst through the midfield before showing brilliant awareness to release blindside flanker Tane Dunn to score. Dunn would later deservedly win the man of the match award following a brilliant individual performance that saw him score a brace of tries, but more importantly continually offer himself as the nearest support player.
A Tom Poole conversion followed, before three minutes later his side were over the whitewash again, this time on the right wing as Max Otis went on an outside break before a sumptuous offload to right wing Simone Panella for a15-5 lead.
The scoring was not done yet though, as the game edged towards the break, Langley scored their third of six as openside Ollie Ashworth crashed over to secure a 20-5 lead for his side at half time.
It was his back row partner Dunn that got things going in the second half, the blindside scoring arguably the try of the day as he seared through from 40 metres out, throwing in a couple of side steps to boot to send his side 27-5 ahead after Poole’s conversion.
The fifth came nine minutes later as Ashowrth and Dunn demonstrated exactly what great back row play looks like. Inside centre Andre Dunn broke through from inside his own half before chipping the last defender and gathering his own kick. The skipper was hauled down short, but offloaded to Tane Dunn, who in turn offloaded to his openside Ollie Ashworth to complete his brace. Poole adding the extras for a 34-5 lead.
By now the Langley tails were up but, but in fairness to Dauntsey’s, they were going nowhere. They were rightly proud to be here and were not going to let their pride or standards slip.
It was a testament then to both sides in a way that Langley’s final try ended up being such a sensation. Langley were throwing offload after offload and consistently finding men in space. They could have scored one, twice, maybe three times in the movement, but Dauntsey’s spirit was unbent and they continued to get across for the cover tackles.
Eventually though, the numbers will always run out, and when they eventually did it was loosehead Frank Scott, who a million passes before had started the move, that finished it, strolling under the posts to give Tom Poole the easiest of conversions for a 41-5 win.
It truly was an outstanding performance from Langley against what is a good Daunstey’s side who really did little wrong, they simply came up against a better side.
The dream is not yet done for the Norwich men though, they must yet go to Twickenham on Wednesday, where they will face a very tough and talented Wirral Grammar School side. After this though, they will head there bursting full of confidence.
Full Time: Dauntsey’s 5-41 Langley
15 Ed Long, 14 Xavi Kemper, 13 Tom Lewis, 12 Rahul Patel, 11 Alex Costard, 10 Will Thomas (c), 9 Chester Barnes, 1 Zander Balls, 2 Charlie Stace, 4 Robert Andrews, 5 George Lishman, 6 Hugh Jacobs, 7 Morgan Douglas, 8 Henry Hill.
Replacements: 16 Ben Harding, 17 Tom Wild, 18 Lewis Maclean, 19 Oliver Sweett, 20 Wilf Fitzgibbon, 21 Kit Major, 22 Bertie Nelson.
15 Luke Phoenix, 14 Simone Panella, 13 Max Otis, 12 Andre Dunn (co-captain), 11 Tyreece Simpson, 10 Tom Poole, 9 Sam McClusky, 1 Frank Scott, 2 William Bicknell, 3 Ryan Green, 4 Hamish Kenward, 5 George Easton, 6 Tane Dunn, 7 Oliver Ashworth, 8 Thomas Smith (co-captain).
Replacments: 16 James Vinall, 17 Sam Hughes, 18 Alex Houghton, 19 Joe Hollidge, 20 Bart Lowden, 21 Daniel Fox, 22 Dafydd-Rhys Tiueti.