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Hampton topple Whitgift to reach the last 16

Hampton produced an excellent second half comeback to overturn Whitgift and seal their place in the NatWest Cup London & South East A regional final, winning 11-6.

The crucial moment cam midway through the second half as flanker Paul Van Der Merwe drove across the line from the trail of an expertly worked driving maul, sending his side into round 7.

Their round seven opponents will be Campion, who had their own scouting team taking in every detail of this game, and following this lunchtime’s quarter finals draw it is now known that the winner will then travel to either RGS High Wycombe or Bicton College for their quarter final match.

Whitgift, who were back to back champions in 2010 and 2011 with stars such as Elliot Daly and Marland Yarde in their side, were the dominant force for much of the first half and went into the break 6-0 up courtesy of a pair of Ned Warne penalties.

It could, and possibly should, have been more – such was the first half ascendency that Whitgift found themselves in, however Hampton’s defence was rock solid throughout.

Henry Cheeseman, the England U18s number 8, was playing at inside centre for Whitgift, as he has for much of the season, and the plan was clearly use him to take the ball up the middle. However such was the Hampton commitment that time and time again he was stopped dead in his tracks, with young Roman Malin-Hiscock doing a sterling defensive job for the away side.

The game had been moved from Whitgift’s famous Bigside 1st XV pitch to a smaller back pitch due to the weather lately, though it appeared in no great disarray from the sides, which played nicely into Whitgift’s hands as it denied Hampton’s skillful backs the room that they wanted to maneuver in, while allowing Whitgift’s big forwards to get more involved.

At half time though Hampton had time to adjust their style and immediately from the kick off they were looking at different ways of injecting some pace into the game, with their captain Akira Takenaka leading the way with some tap and go penalties.

That injection of pace did not last long but what it did do was to give Hampton some momentum and from that their forwards produced what can only be described as a monumental period of energy sapping and intense work.

For all but about ten minutes of the second half, Hampton seemed to be camped inside the Whitgift 22. The pressure that they applied was enormous and it forced Whitgift to try to run the ball from deep in their own half whenever they won the ball, simply as a means of being able to hold onto possession for a period.

That intense pressure was always likely to pay off, and it soon did through two quick Rory Chatterton penalties, leveling the scores at 6-6.

As in the first half though, the defence was exemplary, only this time it was Whitgift who were the ones making the tackles. Not only was it exemplary defending, but to only give away two penalties over such an intense period of play on their own line because of their defensive quality was a disciplinary miracle.

Hampton kept probing away though, with Takenaka now at ten, having started at scrum half, they were trying every trick in the book including a few dabs in behind the defence but Whitgift looked close to impregnable.

Eventually the score came though, and it actually began through a rare second half Whitgift attack. Hampton cut it out quickly on the halfway line, earning a penalty for holding on and Chatterton sent the ball spiraling deep into the Whitgift 22 for a lineout.

With ten minutes on the clock it felt like a crucial time as Hampton set up their driving maul from the lineout. They had had a few promising but ultimately unsuccessful drives before but this one quickly began to gather momentum as it surged towards the line.

Van der Merwe remained calm at the back as he waited for the machine to cross the line for him to dot the ball down and send Hampton into an 11-6 lead.

Chatterton’s conversion just missed but crucially, he used his full minute up, leaving the clock at just over eight minutes.

It was eight minutes of hell though for Hampton as Whitgift mounted their first serious spell of pressure of the half. They seemed to find an extra level out of nowhere and camped in the Hampton 22.

The away side cracked a few times with a couple of penalties, but with a lead of five points they knew that penalties were ok, so long as they were not accompanied by a yellow card.

Whitgift hammered away and were inches from the try line on a couple of occasions but the Hampton defence was as determined as any defence can be. To a man they threw themselves into the tackle before gloriously seizing a penalty of their own after some brilliant work to force Whitgift to hold on on the floor.

That left Hampton with the simple task of booting the ball out of play and sealing their 11-6 victory, and setting up a seventh round tie with Campion.

It was a fantastically intense game, between two of the very best sides in the competition. Whitgift were outstanding at times and will feel hard done by to have come across such tough opposition at this stage of the competition.

Hampton were thoroughly deserving of their victory though, they defended their hearts out and put together one of the most intense spells of pressure that this writer has seen all season in that second half. Having lost to Campion earlier in the season with a few absentees they will be relishing their next tie in this most exciting of NatWest Cups.

Final Score: Whitgift 6-11 Hampton

Other Round 6 NatWest Cup Results:

Lymm High School 10-7 Merchant Taylors, Crosby (Play Pocklington or QEGS Wakefield in Round 7)

Adams Grammar School 21-3 King Edward VI School, Stratford (Play The Perse in Round 7)

Teams:

Whitgift:

1. Michael Young, 2. Callum Buckler 3. James Burnett; 4. Tom Munns 5. Stan South (vc); 6. Rashid Reid, 7. Kolawole Fabusiwa, 8. Joe Hughes; 9. Jack Lloyd, 10. George Jones; 11. Lartey Laryea, 12. Henry Cheeseman, 13. Ned Warne (Captain), 14. Brandon Bellamin; 15. George Pearson.

Replacements: 16. Sven Kerneis, 17. Martin Bontea-Ungureanu, 18. Sidney Holland, 19. Matthew White-Pettigrew, 20. Ewen Stevenson, 21. Greg Dann, 22. Alex Hogg.

Hampton:

1. Sam Curran 2. Alex Griffith-Jones 3. Demitri Moros; 4. Ben Garstka 5. Dan Hewitt; 6. Paul Van der Merwe, 7. Matt Lundberg (vc), 8. George Fulton; 9. Akira Takenaka (Captain) 10. George Tunnacliffe; 11. Alfie Battle, 12. Roman Malin-Hiscock, 13. Harry Hall, 14. Dan Barley; 15. Rory Chatterton.

Replacements: 16. Cameron Sutherland, 17. Joe Burdis, 18. Jacob Goss, 19. Zack Donohoe, 20. Zack Santos, 21. Josh Amadi, 22. Jim Phillipson.

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