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NSB & Dulwich both chasing the history books – Daily Mail Cup Final Preview

The Daily Mail Cup Finals day takes place at Twickenham on Saturday, with the main event being the Under 18 Daily Mail Cup between Dulwich College and Northampton School for Boys.

Dulwich are going in search of a second Daily Mail Cup win in succession after beating Old Swinford Hospital in the final last year. A win on Saturday will see them go down as one of the great schoolboy sides with back to back Cup wins and a virtually unblemished season (a loss to Millfield at St Joseph’s and a draw with Wellington College aside).

It is Northampton School for Boys’ (NSB) first ever Daily Mail Final at any age group as the bid to become the first state school side to win this most prestigious of schoolboy competitions since Truro College back in 2009.

Dulwich go in as favourites as a result of their fine record this season, and with rain forecast for Saturday it would seem that conditions may suit them too, the great strength of their game lies in their forward power, through the likes of Obano, Reason and Ibuanokpe, and in their controlled and accurate kicking, led by Dom Fraser.

However they have shown this season that they have added and attacking string to their bow and in Parsons and Neden they have a pair of talented and willing runners, should the opportunity arise.

NSB will feel relatively confident though, their defence has been one of the most outstanding aspects of their play so they know that if they can keep that up throughout the final and then unleash the talented triumvirate of Bullivant, Segun and Spittle then they can cause some real damage.

The final twenty minutes of their semi final against Warwick was as good as anything on show that weekend and if they perform like that then they have every chance of winning, the worry for them will be if they perform as they did for the opening 50, Dulwich will punish that far more than Warwick did.

Much like Wales v England last week though, games like these are not so much about the qualities or weaknesses of each side, though of course these are important, but more about the mental attitude.

There is no doubt that playing at Twickenham will cause a huge amount of nervousness in both camps, though after last year Dulwich should be prepared for this, the pressure is as big as anything any of these players will have felt and how they react to it is what counts.

Can they remain focused on their gameplan and get the best from themselves both individually and collectively? Can they keep calm and as Sir Clive Woodward used to say; ‘Think Correctly Under Pressure’? It is easy to become lost in the occasion on such days and to forget that it is simply another game of rugby.

Both sides have in a sense already made history, for Dulwich a second final in succession is a fantastic achievement, surpassing anything the school has done before and, as we have previously said, taking them 99.9% of the way to greatness.

For NSB this is the greatest rugby moment in their school’s history, far beyond anything that they have achieved to date. However for both sides this is a story that they feel is unfinished, they want the history books to show that they won it.

It is a special day though, one that win, lose, or draw they will remember for the rest of their lives. For most in either side this will be their final game in their school colours, for many the finest, most prestigious and most important game they will ever play in.

Enjoy it.

Dulwich College:

1. Beno Obano 2. Billy Mostyn 3. Jeremy Reason 4. Hector McKimm 5. Patrick Stuff 6. Felix Maddison 7. Dom Wroe-Wright (c) 8. Josh Ibuanokpe 9. Toby Anthony 10. Ed Parsons 11. Baba Ajisebutu 12. Dom Fraser 13. Joe Charnley 14. Jo Akinlotan 15. Ali Neden.

Replacements: 16. Dom Fernandez 17. John Winter 18. Dami Adebayo 19. Funsho Olalaye 20. George John 21. Ben Henderson 22. Anthony Murray.

Northampton School for Boys:

1. Ben Ibrahim 2. Aaron Cort 3. Oliver Dancer 4. David O’Rourke 5. Tom Galliano 6. Tom Hammersley 7. Oliver Hartfield 8. Jacob Conner 9. Harry Sanderson 10. Conor Bullivant 11. Julian Fitton-Swan 12. Rotimi Segun 13. Jack Spittle (c) 14. Conor Jeffcoate 15. Ned Buckler.

Replacements: 16. Kurt Jenkins 17. Jacob Martin 18. Will Staniford 19. Zak Forscitt 20. Cieran Eeles 21. Kieran Isaac 22. Callum MacKay.

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