School Rugby Weekend Preview – Spectacular weekend predicted

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Coach Logic

The first full weekend school fixture list following the half term breaks has the look of being one of the best of the season so far.

Aside from the four games featured in our Daily Mail Trophy Competition there are a huge number of highly competitive fixtures right across the country.

As ever though, we begin our weekend preview with our four featured games from our Competition.

Whitgift v RGS High Wycombe

These two sides were expected to be among the very best in the country this season, such is the talent available to them, however despite some highly impressive performances at times, neither has quite hit the heights expected – yet.

Defeats to Wellington, Warwick, and Sedbergh in quick succession took some of the aura away from this Whitgift side, though holding on against a late John Fisher fightback did demonstrate that this side does indeed have the quality that caused them to be so highly talked about.

RGS began the year with a bang, beating Wellington 10-8. A result that looks all the more impressive given the form that Wellington have been in since. Defeats to Millfield, John Fisher, and Hampton soon followed though, dampening some of the expectation.

However, as with Whitgift, these defeats have come against some of the very best sides in the country so the quality and ability of both these sides should not be forgotten, they are still up there with the best. As RGS proved by reaching the final of the St Joseph’s Festival.

That result may just swing the tide RGS’ way in this fixture though, given the confidence boost it will have provided, something that a 62-0 midweek NatWest Cup win will have added to.

These are two very evenly matched sides though, both with the quality to beat anyone one their day and this should be one of the most exciting fixtures of the season.

Prediction – RGS High Wycombe, just.

Wellington College v Hampton

Both of these sides go into this having lost just one game all season and both are expected to be rated among the very best when all is said and done at the end of the year.

Wellington almost need no building up, their results and performances over the course of the season speak for themselves. Not only have they won every game since that opening day defeat but they have done so in style, putting huge points on some of the best teams around.

It has not just been about their attack though, their defence has also been exemplary, in their last three matches they have conceded a total of just 11 points. These games have been against serious sides too, in the form of Eton, Bryanston and Sherborne.

Hampton have been equally impressive though they have not been playing the same quality of opposition as Wellington have been on a regular basis. However their one game against what might be described as one of the very best was against RGS High Wycombe, the only side to have beaten Wellington, Hampton won that fixture 15-8, proving that they are most definitely a top side.

You can only beat what is put in front of you though and Hampton have done just that, and to be fair their opposition has hardly been poor, the likes of Wimbledon College and Eltham are pretty serious sides!

Wellington will probably just have the edge is this one though, their form has been sensational all year, and that slightly better standard of opposition may have left them just a touch more battle hardened for this one.

Prediction – Wellington

Warwick v Bedford

After reaching the NatWest Cup (or Daily Mail as it was then) semi finals last year Warwick were very keen to play down their chances this year. However they have proven once again to be a side capable of some absolutely outstanding performances.

While they may not have the consistency of some of the very best sides their results show that they are certainly not far off. A draw with Millfield on the opening day was an outstanding result, whilst victories against Oakham and King’s Worcester were excellent and the defeat of Whitgift was fantastic.

They have only been defeated twice, and even then only by a combined total of six points, proving that they are a top side and an incredibly difficult team to beat.

Bedford are very similar, capable of some brilliant things their only real difficulty is an occasional bout of inconsistency. They cam within a whisker of reaching the St Joseph’s Festival final and have beaten Stamford and Oakham and put a lot of points on Harrow and Oundle in their victories over them.

They lost to a good Uppingham side early on in the season but it was a 43-7 defeat by Dulwich College a real shock. Dulwich are an excellent side and were favourites for the game but nobody could have predicted a score like that.

All in all this game is incredibly difficult to call, it ought to be very tight given how well matched these sides are. That may just tip the balance in Warwick’s favour though, they have been used to playing tight matches all season and with home advantage they may just edge this one.

Prediction – Warwick, just.

Oundle v Uppingham

Uppingham were very impressive in midweek, showing some superb attacking play to defeat an admittedly weak Wisbech Grammar side 66-5.

Their season got off to an absolute flyer, with that defeat of Bedford perhaps the highlight, however in the last few games before half term they just began to wobble a bit with a couple of defeats.

Oundle by contrast have not been having their best season, with Bedford putting fifty past them on the opening weekend being a particularly low point. However they did beat Rugby 41-5, a brilliant result made all the more impressive given that Rugby have beaten Uppingham.

Despite that, Uppingham are probably favourites, victory in midweek will have restored confidence after that mid season wobble. However there is a very genuine rivalry between these two schools and Oundle’s surrounded 1st XV pitch can create a very impressive atmosphere, particularly against Uppingham.

That could very easily unsettle Uppingham, it certainly has in the past, however we expect them to still edge this one.

Prediction – Uppingham

Other Fixtures:

Oakham v Stamford

Outside of those four featured games there are a number of other fantastic fixtures this weekend.

Uppingham’s other great rivals Oakham welcome Stamford for what should be a keenly fought contest. This is usually a pretty close fixture and it looks as though it should be again.

If it were at Stamford it would be an easy prediction, Stamford simply never lose at home, however away from home they have a record much like any other side and this should be evenly matched.

Oakham are coming off the back of an excellent win against Rugby just before half term and with home advantage will probably feel that they can win.

Stamford have only lost to Bedford outside of St Joseph’s this year though and just edge our prediction.

Prediction – Stamford, just.

Dulwich College v John Fisher

Two sides also at the St Joseph’s Festival with Stamford were Dulwich College and John Fisher, with John Fisher meeting Stamford in their group, winning 9-7.

Both sides have fairly comparable records this season, with Dulwich playing seven and winning five, while Fisher have played eight and won seven.

Fisher’s one defeat was by a single point to Whitgift, a game that they could easily have won following a sensational comeback.

A little of Dulwich’s aura has been lost this season, an inevitable drop off following their two years of unbelievable success, however they are still a top class side as their run to what was effectively a semi final at St Joseph’s showed.

During that run they defeated Fisher 12-10 with a couple of scorching tries from full back Ali Neden and that will have filled them with confidence ahead of this game. It should also be remembered that their only defeats have been to Wellington College and KCS Wimbledon, two of they very best, while they comfortably beat Bedford and Brighton.

Fisher are very capable of winning this though, beating RGS High Wycombe earlier in the year showed just how good they are, while the comeback against Whitgift turned that defeat into something of a positive too.

However we think that Dulwich will just take this one, it ought to be a top quality contest though, won by the smallest of margins.

Prediction – Dulwich, just.

Radley College v Marlborough College

A few weeks ago this would have been an easy prediction of a Radley win, however Marlborough have picked up their form brilliantly after a shaky start to the season with four victories on the bounce including an excellent win against Clifton last weekend.

Radley by contrast have looked good all year but have suffered the odd surprise result, such as defeat against Cheltenham College.

The surge in form from Marlborough makes this an incredibly even contest now, however Radley probably still just hold the advantage. Home advantage and the fact that while Marlborough’s form has picked up, their early season form does still count for something leaves Radley as the favourites.

Prediction – Radley

Harrow v Tonbridge

A disastrous start to the season saw Harrow lose heavily to Wellington, Bedford, and Espom, while also losing to RGS High Wycombe.

However a recent upsurge of form suggests that they are now performing at the level expected of themselves, in their first game after half term they beat Eton 31-8, while just before the break they beat St Paul’s 40-29, only the second defeat of the season for the Barnes based school up to that point.

Tonbridge have been far more consistent, beating everyone bar a draw with Radley and a one point defeat to Epsom (who hit fifty v Harrow).

The Kent side’s victories include a thriller against an excellent Cranliegh side and a good victory away at Kirkham Grammar School in a benefit game.

It is tempting to back Harrow in this one, such has been their incredible recent form, however the consistency of Tonbridge makes them just favourites still. It is going to be a big battle though; one that Harrow will be determined to win to prove that their turnaround is permanent.

Prediction – Tonbridge, just.

For anyone looking for a pre Autumn International warm up it is worth getting along to Saracens’ Allianz Park, where KCS Wimbledon v Wimbledon College takes place at 12.00.

After their fantastic victory over St Paul’s in midweek KCS will definitely start this as favourites.

Sherborne v Bryanston has been one of the biggest fixtures around in recent seasons, however neither has really lived up to expectations yet this year. Both have plenty of quality though and if they can put together a series of good results then they could start to cause real damage.

Bryanston will start as favourites though, they have looked the better of the two this season and with a host of England U18 players to call on, they have the quality to unlock any defence.

Cheltenham College v St Edward’s Oxford is also worth keeping an eye on. Cheltenham have been excellent so far this season, with their defeat of Radley before half term a particular highlight.

Predictions – KCS, Bryanston, & Cheltenham

Other Selected Fixtures & Predicitons (predictions in bold):

Ampleforth v Hymers

Barnard Castle v St Peter’s York

Kikrham Grammar School v Manchester Grammar School

Denstone v RGS Newcastle

RGS Lancaster v Sedbergh

Nottingham High School v King’s Macclesfield

Yarm v Woodhouse Grove

Trent College v Rugby

Blundell’s v Clifton College

Stowe v Bromsgrove

Hereford Cathedral School v King’s Worcester

Epsom College v Brighton College

Abingdon v Eton

Haileybury v St John’s Leatherhead

Merchant Taylors v St Paul’s

Colston’s v Monmouth

Llandovery College v Millfield

Worth v Sutton Valence

Durham v Merchiston Castle

Bradford Grammar School v Pocklington

Felsted v St Joseph’s College

Ellesmere v Solihull

Cranleigh v RGS Guildford

Previewed Fixtures (predictions in bold):

Whitgift v RGS High Wycombe (Competition Fixture)

Wellington College v Hampton (Competition Fixture)

Warwick v Bedford (Competition Fixture)

Oundle v Uppingham (Competition Fixture)

Oakham v Stamford

Radley v Marlborough

Dulwich College v John Fisher

Harrow v Tonbridge

Cheltenham College v St Edward’s Oxford

Sherborne v Bryanston

KCS Wimbledon v Wimbledon College

Make sure to send us you results this weekend, you can also send in any photos, match reports or videos to us via Twitter (@FifteenRugbyXV), Facebook (www.facebook.com/FifteenRugby), Email (promotions@fifteenrugby.com) or via the comments box below. Good luck this weekend!

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