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NatWest Cup already looking competitive

With almost all of the U18 NatWest Cup 2nd Round fixtures completed, and the third round due to officially take place a week today, it is worth taking a look ahead at some of the most exiting fixtures in the draw.

A few third round ties have already taken place, Midlands B has been particularly busy with Oakham yesterday beating Trent College 14-10 to progress to the fourth round while Norwich School sealed their place there last week with a 65-5 victory over Easton College. King Edward VI Five Ways also progress, thanks to a third round bye.

2010 and 2011 winners, Whitgift, are also through to the fourth round in London and South East A. They beat City of London Freemens 60-3 in the third round.

In South West A Plymouth College and Stowe are both through to the fourth round after wins over Kelly College and Royal Latin School respectively. Stowe’s 70-3 victory over Latin was particularly impressive.

Woodhouse Grove also sealed their place in the fourth round in North B after beating Crossley Heath today, with a couple of tries from star man Jack Maplesden among others.

There are still well over two hundred schools hoping to join these seven in the fourth round though and we have picked out a few of the most exciting matches in the third round to have a look at:

Durham v King’s Tynemouth – Two of the biggest schools in the North East, both with terrific rugby pedigree, Durham will be favourites but this will be a match that is well worth casting an eye over.

Uppingham v Nottingham High – Nottingham High progressed a round further than Uppingham last year and have impressed over the last couple of years. Uppingham have been excellent this season though making them favourites to progress, it should be a cracking match between two good schools though.

Seaford v Worth – The winners of this tie are likely to find their progress halted by the time of the fifth round but that does not stop this being worth a watch. Both came through close second round encounters, against good sides in Christ’s Hospital and Hurstpierpoint respectively, boding well for a competitive fixture here.

Wimbledon College v Hampton – A very big game for just the third round. These two nearby rivals have been among the better teams in recent years. Hampton are the form side at the moment and reached the semi finals last year, however if they are not absolutely on their game then Wimbledon College are perfectly capable of pouncing.

Casting our minds out to the fourth round, and with a bit of a peek into our crystal ball, there are some even more exciting fixtures that look likely to take place, with some outstanding schools looking likely to be facing a pretty early exit.

Last year’s Vase winners, Yarm, look likely to face the perennial bridesmaids of the Schools Cup, Barnard Castle. The first ever back-to-back winners of the competition, Bradford Grammar School, look likely to play St Peter’s York.

Meanwhile two sides that reached the quarter finals last year, two of the most dramatic quarter finals ever seen in the competition, also look likely to meet; Wilmslow High and King’s Macclesfield. Stockport Grammar School may have something to say about that though, Wilmslow High must get past that formidable obstacle first.

There is a potentially brilliant clash in Bishop’s Stortford as the College and the High School are scheduled to meet each other if they win their third round fixtures. Another local(ish) derby that looks likely is Oakham v Oundle, particularly given that Oakham have already sealed their place in that round.

Whitgift v John Fisher looks a near certainty, Whitgift like Oakham have already sealed their place there so all that remains is for John Fisher to beat Glyn Technology School. Hampton v KCS Wimbledon also looks a likely tie in London and South East A, however with third round fixtures against Wimbledon College and Caterham respectively neither can afford to think beyond their next game here. In the B group of that section, Harrow v Haileybury also looks to be on the cards.

In the South West three potential ties really stand out, inaugural runners up Bishop Wordsworth’s look likely to face Marlborough while Dean Close seem well placed to play Sir Thomas Rich’s, though Wycliffe will make sure that they provide stiff opposition for Sir Thomas’.

Also likely is Blundell’s v King’s College Taunton, a potential tie made all the more enticing by the fact that Blundell’s beat King’s just a couple of weeks ago in the Daily Mail Trophy.

Of course this is all just speculation, it might well be that none of these fourth round ties happen. In the meantime though, enjoy the remaining third round ties and do keep a particular eye out for the four that we have highlighted.

What fixtures are you most excited about and who do you think has the potential to go all the way?

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