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Bloxham make history by sinking Bishop’s Stortford College

Bloxham have reached the sixth round of the U18 NatWest Cup after a stunning second half comeback saw them beat Bishop’s Stortford College 27-22.

Bloxham will play the winner of tomorrow’s huge West Midlands derby between Warwick and Solihull in the next round.

Joining them in the 6th round in Midlands A will be Stamford, who came perilously close to losing their unbeaten home record today but pulled through to beat Uppingham 14-12.

Back in Bishop’s Stortford though Bloxham had started strongly, racing to a 12-0 lead in the opening fifteen minutes as their fast and intricate back play caused the home defence all sorts of bother.

The game at this point was very much a tussle between the strong Bishop’s Stortford College pack and the skilful Bloxham backs, however Bishop’s Stortford were soon to score a smooth backs try of their own as some slick handling from a tap penalty released their right wing to score.

That was soon followed by another try for the home side as their pack really began to rumble, driving over through a rolling maul to bring the scores to 10-12.

The shift in momentum was palpable and Bishop’s Stortford were now hammering away at the Bloxham defence though some strong forward carrying. With the Bloxham defence on the back foot, College soon moved the ball wide through their pacy openside, who released their multi talented number 8 to crash over before converting his own try.

That gave Bishop’s Stortford College a 17-12 half time lead, and while they had looked vulnerable to the Bloxham break, their dominance in the pack was proving too much to handle.

However Bloxham’s coaching staff brilliantly worked their magic at half time, fine tuning their forward play and squeezing an extra 10% out of their pack and it worked brilliantly.

Immediately the away side were on the attack, and though they spurned a couple of scoring opportunities they crucially still came away with points, through a penalty from their excellent full back.

It was he who was to engineer the next big moment in the game, punting the ball deep into Bishop’s Stortford territory, to give the away team possession right on their own line. The Bloxham pack turned on the pressure to force the home fly half to touch down behind his own line to give Bloxham an attacking scrum.

With their rejuvenated set piece Bloxham were able to use the scrum as the perfect platform to release their backs, who finished off the job with aplomb through the left wing to regain the lead, 20-17.

They were soon touching down again, this time after more great work from their full back as he countered back after a Bishop’s Stortford clearance, exchanging passes with his inside centre before the skilful number twelve supplied a sublime offload for his outstanding number eight to crash over.

The conversion took the score out to 27-17, and having been behind at half time Bloxham now looked in control. However Bishop’s Stortford were not about to let their NatWest Cup run end in a hurry, and for much of the rest of the game they piled on the pressure in Bloxham territory.

In the end though their efforts were to be rewarded with just a solitary score, once again for their impressive number eight after another fine example of the driving maul sent him crashing over.

It brought the scores to 22-27 but Bloxham were able to hold on and secured possession near the end, allowing their scrum half to boot the ball out of play, sparking jubilant celebrations as the final whistle blew.

It ended a fine game of rugby, one that had all the ingretients of a cup classic, with good rugby, excellent tries, high tension, and a close finish.

It was Bloxham who edged it though, and they now play in the semi finals of the Cup for the first time in their history, a fine achievement.

Full Time: Bishop’s Stortford College 22-27 Bloxham

There are photos from the game available on our Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/FifteenRugby

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