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School Rugby Weekend Preview & Predictions – Saturday 20th September

With many schools opting to use this weekend as an exeat, the school fixture list is a little quieter this weekend – though no less fascinating.

Most of the top sides are still in action, including some fascinating match ups and local derbies.

Daily Mail Trophy Prediction Competition

As ever we begin our weekend preview with a look at our five prediction competition fixtures (you can enter the competition for a free t-shirt here – Daily Mail Trophy Prediction Competition). This week the fixtures again include some of the teams who will surely be fighting for the podium places at the end of the term.

Bromsgrove v Ellesmere College

 

Bromsgrove are a consistently good team, they finished in the Top 15 in the Daily Mail Trophy last season, an accurate reflection of their standing over the last couple of years, and have begun this season well, beating an in form and dangerous Denstone College side and only narrowly losing to Warwick, who are very much among the elite this year.

Ellesmere also enjoyed a thrilling season last year, losing just once all year and that was by a solitary point to the excellent Solihull School. This season Ellesmere have only played one official fixture to date, but what a game it was. They beat 2012 Schools Cup finalists Old Swinford Hospital 66-0, a tremendous result.

It should be fascinating and a close game but home advantage may just be enough for Bromsgrove.

Prediction – Bromsgrove.

 

Clifton College v Bryanston

 

Another excellent fixture, these two sides have been real powerhouses on the school scene for a number of years.

However this season all has not been quite so rosy for Bryanston, having lost both of their opening to games, a 49-5 demolition by Merchiston Castle, and a shock 7-0 defeat in the Champions Trophy to Reading Blue Coat.

Clifton meanwhile have been in fine form, first seeing off Pate’s Grammar School, and then seeing of the challenge of King’s College Taunton, both by very comfortable scorelines.

Clifton go into this with good memories from last year too, having comfortable won the corresponding fixture. All things point to Clifton then, however Bryanston are a school with such excellent rugby heritage that it is a near certainty that they will come good soon, it could well be on Saturday.

Prediction – Clifton College

 

 

Cranleigh v Epsom College

 

Having watched Epsom College demolish Bishop’s Stortford High School in the Champions Trophy yesterday, we can say with some confidence that once again they are an outstanding team. If that 48-0 victory is not enough to prove it then perhaps victories against Tonbridge and Harrow are enough to prove the credentials of the side who finished 3rd and unbeaten in last year’s competition.

The corresponding fixture last year was a narrow 10-8 victory for Epsom and could well be close again this. Cranleigh have looked in decent form, only narrowly losing to the excellent Brighton College before posting a big score against St John’s Leatherhead so far this season.

Prediction – Epsom College

 

 

Durham v Grammar School at Leeds

 

This one is pretty exciting, Durham are reputationally one of the top sides in the North, while GSAL are showing signs of being one of the very best in the country this season, after showing signs of that ability last year.

The West Yorkshire side go into this one as strong favourites, despite being away from home, having scored 156 points across their three victories so far this season, including a superb 31-8 victory over the very much in form RGS Newcastle in the Champions Trophy yesterday.

It is that result that perhaps more than any other cements GSAL’s position as favourites. Last weekend Durham fell 41-17 to the same opponents at Kingston Park, showing first of all how good RGS are, and secondly just what a brilliant side GSAL are.

It has not been a rosy start for Durham, they have lost to both Barnard Castle and Bradford Grammar as well as RGS. They will be desperate to put that right, and what better way than to make a big statement against a side with such a fast growing reputation as GSAL.

Prediction – Grammar School at Leeds.

 

 

Stowe v Warwick

 

This promises to be a brilliant and close run game. Both sides are set to finish in the upper echelons of this year’s rankings, despite having both lost their opening game of the season. Stowe lost away at Stamford, but given that every side for three years has suffered that fate, it is hardly much of a tell tale sign, while Warwick lost away at Millfield, again not exactly an unusual situation for any team to find themselves in.

Both sides bounced back though, Stowe returned to their Tynedale Festival winning form to beat Oakham 35-0, while Warwick beat the excellent Bromsgrove 13-8.

This will be a truly competitive and interesting game, both have big credentials, both have some outstanding players. Could home advantage be enough for Stowe? Maybe, but only maybe.

Prediction – Stowe, just.

 

 

5 Previews

As ever we also take a look at five fixtures that particularly catch our eye this weekend, and as usual there are plenty to choose from.

Blundell’s v Colston’s

 

Fourteen of the sixteen first round Champions Trophy fixtures have been played already, and Eton College and Haileybury meet today, so when these two sides meet on Saturday they will know pretty much exactly what they are playing to be a part of.

Both have had pretty similar starts to their seasons, winning one and losing one each, though in both victory and defeat Blundell’s scores have been more extreme.

For Colston’s this might be about pride as much as anything. They have such a reputation of excellence in School Cup competition that they will not want this new competition to pass without at least having some influence on it.

Prediction – Blundell’s

 

 

Marlborough College v Wellington College

 

It had not been a great start to the season from Marlborough until an excellent 17-5 victory over King’s College Taunton in the Champions Trophy. A timely return to form fro the side who have performed well over the last two years as they prepare to face one of the top sides in the country, this year and any year.

Wellington College began the season with a win away at RGS High Wycombe, and impressive result by any standards. They then faltered though, drawing 13-13 with Dulwich College at home, a repeat of the 2012 result. That said, they fought back from 13-7 down at half time, so already Wellington have proved that they do not give in.

Prediction – Wellington College

 

 

RGS High Wycombe v Sir Thomas Rich’s

 

Both teams have lost some truly excellent players over the summer but both remain decent teams.

It has been a tough old start to the year for RGS though, first they lost a real tussle at home against Wellington College before making the long trip down to Millfield the following weekend. Hopes were high that they might recover and potentially even upset Millfield, however they were instead given a real humbling, shipping over sixty points to the Somerset side.

Sir Thomas Rich’s have had it a bit easier, they have beaten Bishop’s Wordsworth, QEH, and Bridgend College, starting the season very nicely indeed. However RGS will be the first really tough task of the season, and with RGS hurting and desperate to put right the wrongs of last week, this could be a really tough outing.

We’re expecting RGS to bounce back, they are a determined group.

Prediction – RGS High Wycombe, just.

 

 

RGS Newcastle v Sedbergh

 

This ought to be a very good game indeed. Sedbergh are the kings of rugby in the North of England but lost their opening game of the season to a brilliantly determined Whitgift. Since then though they have beaten George Watson’s and Wilmslow High, scoring 119 points in the process. They must be weary in defence though, for they have shipped sixty points in those two games too.

RGS are really back to their very best this year, beating George Watson’s and thumping Durham at Kingston Park. Things unraveled a bit yesterday as they lost 31-8 to Grammar School at Leeds, but there will be many more top sides to fall to them this year.

Unfortunately for RGS though, Sedbergh are about the last side you would want to face after a defeat, and while this should be a really good contest, Sedbergh will just be favourites.

Prediction – Sedbergh

 

 

Tonbridge v Eton College

 

A bit of a schoolboy classic this one, two longstanding schools with proud sporting traditions.

Tonbridge are perhaps best known for their unbeaten run at the end of the previous decade, but over the last few years they have become known for producing brilliant back row players. Matt Eliet in 2012/13, Matt Blandford in 2013/14, and this year Ben Earl, the England U16 captain and a frighteningly good player.

They have beaten Reading and Eastbourne so far this year but lost to Epsom on the opening day. With this being their first ‘major’ encounter since then, they will be looking to make a big statement.

Eton have so far only played one game, against the Oratory, so their form is a little untested. However having played with two of their recent leavers over the summer, this writer can confirm that Eton are certainly still producing some excellent players.

It ought to be a good contest between two strong school, but Tonbridge will be favourites.

Prediction – Tonbridge

 

Once again then we are in for a brilliant weekend of rugby, and not just with those ten fixtures. Can Bedford Modern continue their brilliant start to the year? We think so. Will Dulwich College carry the momentum fro that Wellington College draw and make a statement v KCS?

Will St Jo’s post another big score to keep their name in everyone’s minds, with a relatively weak fixture list the pressure is on for them to keep doing so.

Then there is the inevitable; will Stamford beat Rugby at home? It is Stamford at home, surely they will. At some point though that record will go, Rugby will hope that it is on Saturday.

There is also the matter of Radley v St Paul’s, a fixture previously overlooked in an earlier draft of this article. Radley lost their centenary game to Sherborne last week, but we would expect them to bounce back against a St Paul’s side who have had a mixed start to the season.

Do you agree with our predictions below? Who do you think will win and lose this week, and what are the games to look out for?

 

Let us know via the comment box below or via @FifteenRugbyXV

School Fixtures – Saturday 20th September (predictions in bold):

Daily Mail Trophy Prediction Competition:

Bromsgrove v Ellesmere (DMT)

Clifton College v Bryanston (DMT)

Cranleigh v Epsom College (DMT)

Durham v Grammar School at Leeds (DMT)

Stowe v Warwick (DMT)

Previewed Fixtures:

Blundell’s v Colston’s (Champions Trophy)

Marlborough College v Wellington College (DMT

RGS High Wycombe v Sir Thomas Rich’s (DMT)

RGS Newcastle v Sedbergh (DMT)

Tonbridge v Eton College (DMT)

Saturday Fixtures:

Ashville College v Harrogate GS

Austin Friars v Dame Allan’s

Bablake v Nottingham High School

Bedford Modern v Aylesbury GS

Berkhamsted v UCS

Bishop’s Stortford HS v St Benedict’s

Bloxham v Malvern College

Campion v Dartford GS

Canford v Hampton (DMT)

CoL Freemens v Eltham College

Crossley Heath v Bradford GS (DMT)

Dulwich College v KCS Wimbledon (DMT)

Eastbourne College v Sutton Valence

KES Bath v Dauntsey’s

King’s Canterbury v Hurstpierpoint

King’s Macclesfield v RGS Lancaster (DMT)

Kingswood v Bristol GS

Kirkham GS v Wirral GS (DMT)

Langley v St Joseph’s College

London Oratory v Glyn (DMT)

Loughborough GS v Trent College (DMT)

Manchester Grammar v Stockport Grammar (DMT)

Merchant Taylors’ v The Oratory

Oundle v Harrow (DMT)

Prior Park v King’s College Taunton

Radley College v St Paul’s School (DMT)

Reed’s v Brighton College (DMT)

RGS Guldford v Portsmouth GS (DMT)

Sandbach v Lymm High School (DMT)

Skinners’ v Whitgit (DMT)

Solihull v RGS Worcester (DMT)

Stamford v Rugby

St Ambrose College v Hutton Grammar

St Peter’s Gloucester v King’s Worcester (DMT)

St Peter’s, York v Hymers College (DMT)

The Leys v Mill Hill

Tiffin v Wimbledon College (DMT)

Trinity v John Fisher (DMT)

Uppingham v St Edward’s, Oxford (DMT)

Wilsmlow High v Adams GS (DMT)

Woodhouse Grove v QEGS Wakefield (DMT)

Worth v Caterham

Yarm v Silcoates

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