The final round of trials for the ISRFC Lambs National XV took place yesterday as the Southern XV beat the Northern XV 29-22 at the fantastic Maidenhead RFC ground.
Both sides were true to the â€˜fast and freeâ€™ motto and style of play that the Lambs demand, with kicking at an absolute minimum; a refreshing take on the game if ever there was one, aided by the excellent all weather surface.
The South began the game the stronger of the two sides, with their scrum dominating and Kingâ€™s Tauntonâ€™s Michael Peek making a real nuisance of himself at the breakdown in a standout performance.
Those two factors led to the North being starved of possession, allowing the South to really show their skills, with full back Charlie Banks leading the charge.
Despite this though, the North showed admirable defensive organisation and commitment for a side that had not played together before, and it was only with about ten minutes to go in the half that the scoreboard was troubled.
The South scored twice in quick succession, both wonderfully worked tries down the left touchline. Freddie Chalmers, who was having an outstanding game displaying Wilkinsonesque tenacity in defence, narrowly missed both conversions leaving the South 10-0 up.
The North had shown though that despite not having much possession, they were a real threat with the ball in hand, unafraid to go for the ambitious ball and skilful enough to make it work. Their efforts were rewarded with a lovely try just before the break, the conversion just fell away but they went into the break just 10-5 down despite their lack of possession.
A raft of substitutions came at half time, with everyone being given the chance to press their claim for National selection. The North seemed to benefit from this particularly well, with their scrum immediately improving.
That improvement saw an increase in possession for the North who dominated the opening exchanges of the half. A succession of penalties were drawn inside of the Southern 22 and it seemed just a matter of time before the defensive wall was breached.
Ampleforth Collegeâ€™s Patrick Nichol was the man to breach it, using his scrum halfâ€™s frame to wriggle over from a quick penalty. Miles Lloyd converted to give the North the lead.
The game then drifted along for a few minutes before one of the most bizarre periods of rugby broke out that this writer has witnessed. First the South scored through a wonderful sniping run from the man in â€˜Râ€™, before the North ran straight back at them from the kick off to level the game.
Almost unbelievably the South then scored again from the resulting kick off to retake the lead, perhaps demonstrating that when the National Squad comes together one area to work on might be organisation at restarts.
The North were not to be outdone though and after some sustained pressure from the South they turned the ball over and with a delightful sweeping move, starting in the own half, they cruised over in the right hand corner to make the scores level.
In the end though the South were able to cross the line a final time through the winger wearing â€˜Bâ€™ to give them the victory that over the course of the game was just about deserved.
In a real show of the spirit of rugby, both sides joined together at the end for photos as hundreds of proud parents breached the pitch side barriers to share in the atmosphere on the pitch at the end.
For some this will be the end of the road, whilst for other selection to the National XV will follow and series of game for the Lambs throughout the next six weeks before a tour of Ireland.
For all though, this was a day to be proud to be a part of, a day of fantastic rugby where even the freezing temperatures and lack of familiarity did nothing to diminish its quality.
1. Iain Stewart – Brentwood School;
2. Conor Philips – Brentwood School;
3. Eliott Roofe – Colfeâ€™s School;
4. Jamie Williams – Kingswood School;
5. Robbie Richardson – Millfield School;
6. Matt Warren – Framlingham College;
7. Michael Peek – Kingâ€™s, Taunton;
8. Will Martin â€“ Sherborne;
9. Will Van Klaveren – Kings College School Wimbledon;
10. Freddie Chalmers – Harrow School;
11. Cyprian Owen Edmonds – Harrow School;
12. Mike Haines – Canford School;
13. Will Bennett – Reigate Grammar School;
14. Lloyd Delahunty – Millfield School;
15. Charlie Banks – Colfeâ€™s School
Fred Davis – Eton College; Angus Smith – St. Peterâ€™s, York;â€¨ Max Ellery – St. Bedeâ€™s;â€¨ Ben Bruce – Cheltenham College;â€¨ Will Radford â€“ Millfield; Stephen Packer – Framlingham College;â€¨ Sam Rossiter – Pangbourne College;â€¨ Rory Garrett – Abingdon School;â€¨ Piers Oâ€™Conor – Eastbourne College;â€¨ Henry Thompson – Exeter School.
1. Thomas West – Radley College;
2. Simon Waller â€“ Yarm School;
3. Johnnie Martin – Rugby School;
4. Iain Billington – Berkhamsted School;
5. Nathan Stansfield – Bolton School;
6. Liam Fitt – Bedford School;
7. Matthew Retchless – Wisbech Grammar School;
8. Nick Richardson – RGS Newcastle;
9. Angus Hardy – Berkhamsted School;
10. Miles Lloyd â€“ Sedburgh;
11. David Elliot – Durham School;
12. David Harrison – Hymers College;
13. Charles Greswold – St Peters York;
14. George Adams – Bedford School;
15. Kit Goodfellow – Rugby School.
Josh Pieterse – St. Columbas College;â€¨ Toby Swift – Radley College;â€¨ Sam Morris – Woodhouse Grove;â€¨ Nicholas Stephen St Peters York;â€¨ Patrick Nichol â€“ Ampleforth; â€¨Josh Gray – The Perse Upper; â€¨Roland Walker â€“ Ampleforth.
If you were playing/watching yesterday and can help us to match up some of the lettered shirts with the player wearing them, it would be much appreciated!