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Ipswich narrowly beat local rivals RHS in dogged contest

When local rivals clash it can almost always be expected to be a tough and competitive game, so it was yesterday when Ipswich School made the short trip to the magnificent setting of the Royal Hospital School.

The only confusion really is than given the stunning school building overlooking the grounds at RHS, the 1st XV pitch is bewilderingly stuck away in a corner rather than the focus of the grounds, right in front of the school.

Nevertheless, aesthetics were put to the side as these two sides had come to play. They had enjoyed contrasting fortunes at the weekend, Ipswich winning handsomely at The King’s School, Ely, whilst RHS had been given a tough game against Gresham’s, losing 22-0.

As such, it was Ipswich who started the game the stronger, dominating both the set piece and the breakdown as RHS struggled to find a pattern of play that could sustain possession for them.

Ipswich were making good ground using three main ball carries in Uzokwe, Douglas and Davis, and it was no surprise following good work from these three to see fly half Felix Ward waltz through a hole in the RHS defence to score under the posts.

Will Davis converted to give Ipswich a deserved 7-0 lead inside the opening fifteen minutes. RHS though had clearly had a chance to sort out a few tactical issues following the try, and came back from the kick off with a clear determination to hit Ipswich around the fringes before using their hard running 10, 12 combination to inject some pace.

The tactic showed signs of promise and was rewarded with a penalty in the eighteen minute, easily slotted by their outside centre to bring the scores to 7-3.

Ipswich continued to boss the breakdown though, and, aware that the strong running of their main ball carries was still causing problem, they continued to attack with pace and power in the wide channels.

Uzokwe was central to this, and his ability to take two or three defenders out of the game was beginning to cause RHS no end of bother. Eventually, the pressure told as Uzokwe barrelled over in the corner, dragging a couple of defenders with him.

Davis missed the conversion from out wide, leaving Ipswich with a 12-3 lead but full of confidence and looking determined to extend it.

RHS though were not deterred by the score, and confident that their attitude with the ball in hand was working, they continued to attack along the same lines, confident that if they could sustain a bit of possession, the try’s would come.

Their confidence was soon rewarded as their scrum half wriggled away following some good work around the fringes and some hard running at inside centre to score in the right hand corner, visibly lifting his teammates spirit. The conversion was missed, but suddenly at 12-8 RHS seemed right back in it, despite having been dominated for large parts of the half.

Opportunistic as ever though, they were right back at it soon after. Ipswich attacked deep into the RHS 22, but an excellent turnover and then fast hands saw 12 go bursting through on the halfway line.

With the chance to stretch his legs fully for the first time all match he rounded the last line of the Ipswich defence to go diving in under the posts. His centre partner converted to give RHS a surprising 15-12 lead at the half time break.

Ipswich went in slightly shell shocked, behind by three points in a match that had largely been under their own control, while RHS buoyed by their two late scores suddenly realised that they were in this game.

The second half began in the same manner as the first half, with Ipswich dominating possession, through their superiority at the breakdown and the set piece.

That set piece domination was soon to be halted though as the referee called over Ipswich captain Simon Uzokwe. Uzokwe, a prop with Northampton Saints, had been naturally dominant in the scrum, the referee however had some fears over the safety of his opposite number and called for the Ipswich loosehead to hold the scrum steady and nothing more.

Safety, of course, is paramount at scrum time, but negating this obvious area of superiority for Ipswich was a somewhat unprecedented decision and looked likely to curtail an area of superiority for the away side.

RHS began to grow into the game ever more, as they became inspired by the increasingly large crowd supporting them as the surrounding matches began to finish.

Following one sustained period of pressure though, Ipswich escaped following a set piece as Will Davis once again broke through the opposition midfield. Surging towards the RHS 22, Davis offloaded to Adejuwon who had come on in the back row and looked inspired.

Adejuwon moved into the RHS 22, before offloading to the speedster on the wing, Ed King. King managed to evade the RHS cover defence to score right in the corner. Davis missed a tough conversion, but Ipswich led once again, 17-15.

Ipswich, increasing in confidence again, then began to hammer away at the RHS defence. RHS refused to yield though as their increasingly vocal crowd continued to visibly lift their players who sensed that a first victory in weeks was possible.

With huge tackles going in on the likes of Uzokwe and Douglas, players who previously had seemed almost impossible for RHS to put down, the home side were clearly pumped up and inspired.

Ipswich continued to dominate the possession right to the end though, and always looked the more likely to score. As it was though, Ward popped the ball into touch, prompting the final whistle to confirm a 17-12 victory for the men in blue.

Final Score: Royal Hospital School 12-17 Ipswich School

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