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Schools Weekend Preview & Predictions – Massive games across the country

There is a treat in store in the schools rugby world this weekend, we will find out just how good some of the teams that have been so highly spoken of really are.

Our four Daily Mail Trophy Competition fixtures all look highly competitive and informative but it does not stop there, there is intrigue and quality all over the place.

Daily Mail Trophy Competition

As ever we begin our preview with our four featured fixtures from our competition, these are four outstanding fixtures this week.

Woodhouse Grove v Durham

This is one of the most hotly anticipated fixtures in the North of England this season. Woodhouse Grove have been utterly outstanding this year, sweeping all before them, bar a shock loss in the NatWest Cup, beating the likes of Grammar School at Leeds and King’s Macclesfield in the process.

Durham will be their toughest fixture of the season though, and while even if they lose it they will surely remain at the top of the Daily Mail Trophy table, this will be the fixture on which they are most heavily judged, for this Durham outfit is very good indeed.

They have beaten some outstanding sides this year, losing only to Sedbergh, who are quite exceptional. Durham did rather surprisingly draw with Ampleforth though, suggesting a chink in the armour that Woodhouse Grove will be keen to exploit.

Beating Cheltenham, St Paul’s, and Sherborne at the Veterrimi IV shows their quality, and this really ought to be a very good game indeed. Predicting it is near enough impossible, and on that basis falling on the side of the home team is the only option left. It ought to be fascinating though.

Prediction – Woodhouse Grove, just.

Millfield v Whitgift

We said the competition fixtures this week were good, and this game only serves to highlight that.

After a long period without playing each other these two rugby giants finally meet again, and with both looking in impressive form it ought to be titanic.

Whitgift were one of the most talked about teams during pre season and they started the season well. However once the tricky fixtures started coming in they started to falter, losing to Wellington, Sedbergh, and RGS High Wycombe. No embarrassment by any means but not what they were hoping for.

However over the last week they have seen off both Dulwich and John Fisher and that old swagger has returned, making them a very imposing opposition for Millfield.

However Millfield have been pretty rampant this season, unbeaten bar a loss to a New Zealnd touring side and missing out at St Joseph’s Festival, they have been formidable.

In the last month they have beaten Sedbergh, Filton College, and Llandovery College, not to mention victories over Blundell’s and Portsmouth Grammar School with a number of players rested.

They will be favourites for this one, particularly on a home Jubilee pitch that will be absolutely rocking on Saturday afternoon. However that should not read as an easy win, Whitgift are an outstanding side themselves, with a number of age group internationals, and are more than capable of winning this one. They will feel like this is a real opportunity to stamp their own very public mark on the season.

Prediction – Millfield

Eton College v St Paul’s

This game is full of history and ought to be highly competitive. Eton have been a little bit up and down this season but a big win over Abingdon two weeks ago and a stunning 32-21 victory over Marlborough last weekend leaves them full of confidence and excited for this St Paul’s challenge.

St Paul’s had got their season off to a good start but two defeats, to KCS Wimbledon and Tonbridge, either side of a victory of Merchant Taylor’s may just have burst the bubble a bit.

They are certainly good enough to beat Eton though, as victory over Radley and their progress to the Veterrimi IV final show.

It ought to be a very entertaining fixture, and a very close run game but we expect Eton to just edge this, but only just.

Prediction – Eton, just.

Dulwich College v Hampton

Just in case you thought there were not enough brilliant fixtures this weekend, here is another one.

Dulwich were on fire against Eltham in midweek, winning 32-0, but lost to Whitgift at the weekend. However Hampton also lost, in shock circumstances, to Campion, having done brilliantly against KCS Wimbledon the previous Wednesday in the Cup.

These two last played in their outstanding Daily Mail Cup (as it was then) semi final last year, with Dulwich running out as narrow winners before going to lift the trophy for the second time in a row.

As ever, there has been a huge turnaround in players since then, and Hampton now find themselves among the favourites for the cup this year, if they can negotiate a tricky London & South East A division.

This fixture ought to be very close, Dulwich’s record against the vey top sides is perhaps not how they would like it to be this year, but the games have all been close and this should be no different.

Hampton must feel confident despite that loss to Campion though, with victories over Wellington, RGS High Wycombe, and KCS Wimbledon in their pocket, but they know the threat that Dulwich pose.

Hampton’s record makes them narrow favourites for this one, but having seen Dulwich’s defence in operation on Wednesday it will not be easy. Underestimate this Dulwich side at your peril though, they are a good side and they are coming to the boil pretty well, regardless of that Whitgift result.

Prediction – Hampton, just.

NatWest Cup

Marlborough College v Bishop’s Wordsworth

Originally this was just a regular fixture on their calendars, but having been drawn in the 4th round of the NatWest Cup they have combined it with the cup game.

Marlborough will be favourites for this though, they may have lost to Eton in midweek but prior to that they had been looking good after a surprisingly shaky start to the season.

To look ahead at who the winner will face in the next round, and the rest of the draw, please have a look at our NatWest Cup guide.

Four Big Games

Warwick v Sedbergh

This should be an excellent game, Sedbegh are unquestionably one of the best sides in the country but Warwick have built up something of a reputation for troubling the very best sides this year, having drawn with Millfield and beaten Whitgift among other results.

We still expect Sedbergh to edge this but Warwick are a very, very good side, and it is far from unimaginable to see them pull off another giant killing.

Brighton College v John Fisher

Brighton have been slightly below their usual excellence this season, however a draw with Epsom College signalled they are certainly still a very strong side.

John Fisher have had some stunning results, such as beating RGS High Wycombe, but then in other big games have just lost out, so how they fare in this one ought to be interesting.

Rugby v Stamford

Another that should be good viewing. Rugby has had some brilliant fixtures this year but have also lost some surprising games, making them one of the tougher sides to predict.

Stamford have been much easier, if they are at home they win, after all they have not been beaten there for two years, while away their record is still pretty handy, probably making them favourites tomorrow.

Bradford Grammar School v QEGS Wakefield

Two National Schools Cup legends coming together always makes for an exciting fixture, and that is exactly what these two sides are.

Bradford will probably be favourites for this one though; they have been in fine form over the last six weeks or so under the tutelage of Dan Scarborough, while QEGS have been more inconsistent.

Predictions – Sedbergh, Birghton College (just), Stamford, and Bradford Grammar.

Selected School Rugby Fixtures – 23rd November 2013 (Predictions in bold):

Woodhouse Grove v Durham (Competition Fixture)

Millfield v Whitgift (Competition Fixture)

Eton College v St Paul’s (Competition Fixture)

Dulwich College v Hampton (Competition Fixture)

Marlborough College v Bishop Wordsworth’s (NatWest Cup)

Warwick v Sedbergh (Previewed)

Brighton College v John Fisher (Previewed)

Rugby v Stamford (Previewed)

Bradford Grammar School v QEGS Wakefield (Previewed)

Bablake v King’s School Worcester

Wimbledon College v Reed’s

St Benedict’s v Campion

King’s Macclesfield v Wilmslow High School

Yarm v Dame Allan’s

Crossley Heath v RGS Newcastle

RGS High Wycombe v Aylesbury Grammar

Hymers v Grammar School at Leeds

Hurstpierpoint v St George’s Weybridge

KCS Wimbledon v St John’s Leatherhead

Royal Hospital School v St Joseph’s College

Tonbridge v Skinners’

Emanuel v Worth

Uppingham v Bishop’s Stortford High School

Clifton College v Bristol Grammar School

Nottingham High v Solihull

Churcher’s College v Harrow

Portsmouth Grammar School v Bryanston

Bromsgrove v Colston’s

Kirkham Grammar v Mount St Mary’s

RGS Guildford v Abingdon

RGS Lancaster v St Ambrose College

Denstone v Bloxham

St Albans v Bedford Modern

St Edward’s Oxford v The Oratory

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