Inspired Campion shock St Joseph’s

On a day of NatWest Cup action that will be remembered for a long time for its close games, dramatic results, and shock exits, Campion v St Joseph’s College had a little bit of everything.

Campion ran out 14-10 winners, backed by an absolute army of supporters on the touchline, stunning St Joseph’s – who were among a handful of favourites for the entire tournament.

Perhaps it should not have been so shocking though, after all Campion had beaten Hampton only a couple of weeks ago and have a proud record in this competition, winning it in 2001.

However with St Joseph’s having won their own Fesitval last month, and competition loaded with quality, they were obvious favourites ahead of this one.

Campion refused to bow to that tag though, and backed by that fanatical fanbase they gave everything to get the result. It would have been a familiar sensation for St Joseph’s, they were playing in a similar atmosphere when they won the Festival, only this time the hoards of supporters and the constant noise was not for them but against.

Even on the pitch Campion were doing all that they could to unsettle St Joseph’s constantly chirping and jibing at the away side. With St Joseph’s fielding a slightly younger side it seemed to be a ploy that was working. Campion’s scrappiness (in a positive sense) was unsettling any rhythm that St Joseph’s tried to make while their chat was surely starting to prey on the mind.

St Joseph’s had had the early rub of the green but it was Campion who opened the scoring with a sensational try; their full back chipped ahead and the ball bounced perfectly for his outside centre to streak away to score under the posts.

The home side then did the sensible thing and played for territory, forcing the away team to play their way up the field. Eventual St Joseph’s did work their way upfield though, where Dan Lewis made their trip to the 22 pay with a penalty from about twenty-five yards out.

As the afternoon’s lessons began to finish the Campion crowd just kept growing bigger and louder, while St Joseph’s were having to rejig their backline after injuries to two of their back three, forcing George Wacokecoke from centre to full back.

Despite that St Joseph’s were enjoying the bulk of possession, however it was to be Campion who had the final chance of the half after a big wave of attack yielded a penalty. The attempt at three points hit the post but it sent Campion into half time buoyant and full of belief for the second half with their 7-3 lead.

St Joseph’s clearly buoyed themselves up at half time though because they started the second half like a rocket, with a deft chip and gather from Dan Lewis really igniting their momentum.

The away side battered and battered away at the Campion defence but their spirit was quite simply sensational, while the support of the crowd was almost fanatical. Each tackle, or turnover, or any piece of play that was even mildly good was cheering like the winning goal in the FA Cup final. The players fed off that atmosphere like hungry leopards, with each cheer for a tackle came an even bigger and harder tackle the next time, it was inspiring stuff.

Against a backline of the quality of St Joseph’s though you will do well to keep them out all game, and eventually the inevitable happened as George Wacokecoke burst through the midfield, showing a great combination of pace power and strength to evade any would be St Joseph’s tacklers and dot down under the posts.

Lewis converted to give St Joseph’s a 10-7 lead and watching from the sidelines it felt as though this was the moment when St Joseph’s would kick on.

They did everything they could to kick on, with Lewis Ludlum getting through an astounding amount of work but Campion simply refused to give in, and slowly but surely they began to gain some sustained possession, leading to a couple of penalties to set up a lineout on the St Joseph’s five metre line.

You had to feel that this was their moment, score now and St Joseph’s were under real pressure; fail, and the away side might just feel that they had got away with it.

Campion showed no signs of the pressure of the moment though and created some fantastic momentum through their driving maul as they surged over the St Joseph’s line.

The crowd went bananas, as did the players, with everyone fully aware of the significance of the score. Their fly half, who had brilliantly kept his side in the right areas of the pitch whenever he had the ball, landed the extras to stretch the advantage to 14-10, giving his side less than five minutes to defend their four point lead.

Twice St Joseph’s game battering down into the Campion 22, as our clip of the closing stages of the game shows, but twice Campion repelled them – to the very audible delight of their brilliant support  – before the referee finally blew his whistle to call time on what had been a brilliant and dramatic match.

St Joseph’s will be disappointed not to have done better but Campion will be delighted, not just with the win but with the spirit that their side showed. It was a victory built on heart, determination, and courage as much as it was one built on skill. It was a fantastic game to witness.

Campion will now play either Skinners’ or Dartford Grammar School in the 6th round, ahead of a section final for the winners against either Whitgift or Hampton.

Full Time: Campion 14-10 St Joseph’s College

Photos of the game are up on our Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/FifteenRugby

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