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St Edward’s and Radley play out a thriller

Part of the reason why sport is so popular is the pure and unpredictable drama that it so often creates.

St Edward’s v Radley College was the perfect example of such sporting drama. It is one of the biggest fixtures on the calendar, and there is a deep rivalry between the two sides, something that was to prove a blessing as an even bigger crowd than usual were able to say they had witnessed this ending.

It was a game that had swung back and forth between the two sides, with each coming agonisingly close to looking secure before being slowly pegged back by the other side, amidst a background of constant and passionate noise from the large crowd.

However as the game moved towards its final stages it looked like Radley had done enough to secure the win, after two quick penalties had seen them go from 13-16 down to leading 21-16 with just minutes left and with Teddy’s deep in their own half.

A couple of quickly taken penalties saw Teddy’s make inroads into the Radley half but the sense was that while they might be able to gain another penalty, the necessary try seemed a long shot.

Penalties kept coming their way though and, despite cries from the crowd to go for the corner, Teddy’s kept with their tap and go policy, knowing that they were already deep into the final play.

Press as they might though, they seemed unable to move closer than the edge of the Radley 22, such was the commitment of the away defence. However Teddy’s refused to yield to the defence and suddenly in a flash they moved the ball wide from their previous trench in the middle of the pitch, releasing their outstanding openside flanker, who evaded one man before dragging another couple with him to gloriously touch down in the right hand corner.

It was an outstanding piece of play, and a brilliant finish under the circumstances, dramatically levelling the game at 21 all. With the score being right in the corner though, the conversion for the chance at sealing the victory was as tough as they come.

The hush that descended for the kick was exemplary though, something that could not always have been said through the rest of the game, as the tension absolutely soared to stratospheric levels.

Teddy’s stood, arms linked together, behind their man with all the pressure on his shoulders – their fly half, while Radley lined up as though ready for the 100m final as they prepared to charge down the kick.

The kicker strode up to the ball, doing fantastically well to seem oblivious to the tension surrounding him, and struck as sweetly as he could have wished for, sending the ball sailing towards the posts.

It seemed to take an eternity, and then an eternity more as suddenly, as it began to drop, the touch judges eyes lit with panic – the fate of this game was going to be in their hands – had the ball crept over the posts or not?

It might have been just a second but it felt like a minute as they stared at each other, then at the referee, before deciding that the ball had fallen just short. It was the correct decision for sure but it was oh so close, it had been a superb kick but the distance was just too great.

So the game ended in heartbreak for both sides, but the draw seemed a fair reflection on what had been an even game in which both sides had had their periods of dominance.

Teddy’s had led at the break 13-5, a half that had been littered with pernickety offences. Radley hit back early in the second half through two quick tries from their outside centre, either side of a seemingly harsh yellow card to the Teddy’s number eight, to take the scores to 13-15.

The game then closed up enormously as it became a tit for tat battle of penalties, with the openside flankers for both sides particularly standing out for their work in both attack and defence.

As the game edged nearer and nearer to those final few minutes though, the story of the game became that dramatic, brilliant, final sequence of play. A glorious end to a wonderfully competitive match.

Full Time: St Edward’s, Oxford 21-21 Radley College

A selection of photos from the game are available on our Facebook Page

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