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Dulwich and Wellington share the spoils in an epic encounter

Dulwich College’s trip to Wellington this Saturday was a highlight in the diary of every school rugby follower. Last years Daily Mail Champions against one of the strongest rugby schools in history.

None of the current crop of Dulwich 1st XV players was even at the school the last time they won on Wellington soil, but they arrived with a steely determination.

The South Eastern side has made no secret of their desire to sweep all before them this year, to prove that they belong at the top of the schoolboy pile. Wellington though have ambitions of their own and were in no mood to surrender to Dulwich’s will.

A tense and exciting game was the result of all of the pre match build up, in a game that disappointed no one. Dulwich started the brighter of the two, scoring twoearly penalties and then a nicely worked try, finished by Josh Ibuanopke, and then converted to make it 13-0.

Wellington knocked over a penalty themselves at the half to go into the break 13-3 down, with Dulwich looking in total control. They were playing the sort of rugby that worked for them so well over the course of last season, and accurate kicking game, followed by clinical play in the right areas.

Wellington were under no huge pressure but were simply unable to get a strong foothold in the game or any decent field position.

The second half gave us one of those unique spectacles only seen in the school game. As the second half ticked by, the crowd grew minute by minute as pupils, parents and staff from the early games migrated to the 1st team pitch.

Wellington were clearly inspired by the increase in the crowd and the noise they were making. An early penalty left them only a converted try behind as they camped in the Dulwich 22.

An exhibition of the quality of rugby played at these schools was on show, as Wellington created wave after wave of attack while Dulwich threw themselves wholeheartedly at the feet of the Wellington attack, chopping them down and turning over ball in outstanding fashion.

As the clocked ticked down and the crowd volume picked up, it was beginning to look as though Dulwich might just hold out, but pressure after the repelled yet another attack saw them concede a lineout to Wellington on the 5m line.

Wellington went for the drive before working the ball into the midfield before bursting through to score by the posts, with a simple conversion to follow, the game ended in a fitting 13-13 draw.

It was a match of the highest standard, a shining example of the quality of schoolboy rugby, and a draw was a fair result in a game where two sides gave everything.

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