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Eton College end Woodhouse Grove’s Champions Trophy dream

On a beautiful afternoon in West Yorkshire, Woodhouse Grove welcomed Eton College in a second round tie of the inaugural Champions’ Trophy. Following a last-gasp match winning try in the previous round, The Grove were rewarded with a visit from this prestigious school.

After much anticipation Eton got the game underway, playing the first half with a slight wind at their backs.

The home side came flying out of the traps; supported by a partisan crowd. Opening spells of prolonged pressure restricted play to Eton territory but Woodhouse were unable to convert their early dominance into points.

It looked as if The Grove would open the scoring; however, they were again unable to finish a stylish move that started with a trademark jinking run from fly half Bailey Worcester. Once again, the dogged Eton defence held out.

Despite the early onslaught, Eton rode out the momentum before registering the first points of the afternoon. A lapse in concentration opened up a perfect opportunity for Eton to take a 7-0 lead midway through the first half.

Soon after, Patrick McPherson broke a number of tackles before touching down.

Having seen their dominance dissipate almost momentarily, Woodhouse were back on the attack; but were still unable to finish a clear cut chance.

Before the half time whistle, Eton added another seven-pointer. Full-back, Lockyear finished another clinical move and the halftime scoreboard read 0-19 in favour of the visitors.

Early in the second half, Lockyear crossed again. A long range effort highlighted the danger the Eton back three possesses.

Another sweeping Etonian attack was this time thwarted by some excellent covering defence. However, Lockyear was not to be denied a hat trick. He was on hand to finish a move hehad started and in doing so stretched the lead to twenty nine points.

Eton enjoyed further possession and territory and added another three points to the score through a routine penalty kick.

Just as Eton threatened to run away with the tie, a nasty injury to the host’s captain, Matt Blackhall, brought the match to a halt and slowed the Eton momentum.

Having seen their captain taken off with a suspected broken arm, Woodhouse Grove came back looking to restore some pride to the scoreboard. A well executed move set up George Styles who crossed under the posts- much to the delight of the home crowd. A successful Worcester conversion narrowed the gap to 7-32.

Eton College were quick to respond and soon cancelled out The Grove’s try after another clinical finish. They restored the lead to thirty two points.

Although it was to be the home side who would have the final word. Brandon Staples fended off the defenders and broke the Etonian defensive line to give a final score of 12-39.

A young, Woodhouse Grove side were by no means outclassed by their opponents but they were certainly shown a lesson in clinical finishing as the better team on the day prevailed.  

Eton College will now look forward in anticipation to the quarter final draw- as we all will. There will certainly be some titanic clashes.

This coming weekend, The Grove face a tricky trip to King’s Macclesfield; who progressed through to the next round of the Natwest Cup during the week. Eton College will travel to King’s College School, Wimbledon.

Full time: Woodhouse Grove 12-39 Eton College

By Gregory Newark

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