RGS High Wycombe showed all the guts and determination of champions today as they defeated Marlborough College today 15-11 to progress to round 7 of the NatWest Cup.
Round 7 is effectively the â€˜section finalâ€™ before the winners of each section are drawn together for the quarter finals.
It was RGSâ€™ toughest assignment of the tournament so far without a shadow of a doubt, as the side that Fifteen Rugby named as our section favourites came up against an in form and confident Marlborough XV.
Indeed such has Marlboroughâ€™s form been that they drew an enormous, and wonderfully vocal, crowd who were full of expectation ahead of this classic fixture.
The tension was palpable and it manifested itself in a tight and cagey, but nonetheless absorbing, first half. The only score in that opening half came through a Marlborough College penalty, from the boot of the outstanding Charlie Norman, a stat that might suggest a boring half but it is a stat that was ultimately misleading because it was an absorbing and high quality affair.
The most noticeable aspect of the half though was the immense physical effort that Marlborough were being forced to expend due to the sheer size of the RGS High Wycombe side.
That effort was nearly made to tell before the end of the half as some tired defending yielded a series of penalties to RGS, however the visitors continually opted to press on with the attack, rather than taking the points, believed that the pressure would soon yield a try.
Marlborough did well to see that pressure out though and took their 3-0 lead into half time, where their wonderfully boisterous crowd cranked up the atmosphere and tension even more with their passionate support.
RGS refused to let the atmosphere get the better of them though as they snaffled the ball early in the second half from a Marlborough clearance kick and began a lovely sweeping move from deep inside their own half.
The ball must have passed through at least half a dozen sets of hands, including three touches from the composed RGS fly half, Ben Wood, before Pow was released down the right wing to score a sensational team try.
It was a truly brilliant score, giving RGS a 5-3 lead, however it was not to last long as Marlborough, showing tremendous spirit and determination, began their own assault on the opposition try line, eventually scoring through their outstanding openside flanker tight into the left hand corner.
The momentum was now truly Marlboroughâ€™s and with a fantastic atmosphere behind them it looked as though mentally all of the cards were now in Marlboroughâ€™s hands, particularly after Norman knocked over another three points to stretch the home sideâ€™s lead to 11-5.
RGS High Wycombe are not among the favourites for this competition for nothing though, not only are they a side of much talent; they are a side with the mental ability to win titles, as the bulk of this group of players did a few years ago when they won the U15 Cup.
They needed all of that mental ability and title winning experience to get through this one though, the momentum was with Marlborough but RGS dug in and ground their way into the Marlborough 22, setting up a series of drives before Murphy eventually crashed over.
A simple conversion for Wood gave the away side a 12-11 lead but the game was far from over. Play seemed fixed in the middle of the park for the next few minutes as Marlborough desperately searched for another score.
Each half break or turnover from the home side was greeted like a victory in itself, but RGSâ€™ were creating half breaks and turnovers of their own too and eventually their efforts yielded a penalty. Wood stepped up fully forty yards out to slot the penalty over, a glorious moment for RGS but it was oh so cruel for Marlborough whose spirit and tenacity had been brilliant throughout.
With Woodâ€™s penalty came the final whistle, confirming the final score as 15-11 and RGS High Wycombe as a side to really look out for after Christmas. Ask Dulwich Collegeâ€™s two title winning sides, you can have all the talent and ability that you like but all that really counts in the Cup is being able to win these tight, and very loseable matches.
Next up for RGS will be either Sir Thomas Richâ€™s or Bicton College, while for Marlborough attention will now turn to the Sevens season, something which this performance, and their form over the last six weeks, ought to give them plenty of confidence for.
Final Score: Marlborough College 11-15 RGS High Wycombe
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