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St Joseph’s College reach last 8 after victory over Whitgift

St Joseph’s College sealed their place in the last 16 of the U18 NatWest Cup with a 20-12 victory over Whitgift to go through as London & South East A victors.

Known for their annual Rugby Festival every October, which is particularly famous for the vociferous support that the home side gets each year, something that has helped St Joseph’s to successive finals, the St Joseph’s College faithful recreated that type of atmosphere this afternoon.

Despite it being a Wednesday afternoon their 1st XV pitch was still surrounded by hundreds of supporters, with plenty of old boys among them, including Oyonnax youngster Dan Lewis, and their support helped inspire their side to an opening score with just minutes of the game gone, through openside Luke Cerely.

Whitgift, who had had to beat a tough St Benedict’s outfit in the last round just to get here, were suffering with a few injuries, most notably their full back and inspiration, Matt Gallagher.

Those early minutes were a bit of a shock to the system for them, perhaps all the more so because a slightly softer fixture list suggested that St Joseph’s might be slightly slower starters.

Nevertheless Whitgift picked up soon after and though St Joseph’s had a further score disallowed for a forward pass later in the half, the away side were able to see out the half just five points in arrears.

The scores were close but St Joseph’s had been looking tough, their big runners  such as Celery, Alibi Sayer at hooker, and captain Ethan Waddleton in the centre were making hard and powerful yards, while pace and ferociousness of the home rucking was giving the likes of the fleet footed Tom Emery some excellent ball to play with.

That was to come to fruition early in the second half as winger Ross Taylor crossed the line to double his side’s advantage, and with that there was a slight feeling that his team might start to pull away.

Whitgift are a tough nut to crack though, champions in 2010 and 2011 they know how to win these games, a 6-5 win in the last round proving that fact.

They halved the deficit with just over twenty minutes of the second half gone with blindside Sidney Holland barging over, setting up a frantic final fifteen minutes.

First St Joseph’s crossed through loosehead Luke Palmer, but no sooner had the restart been taken than Whitgift were setting up for a lineout deep in St Joseph’s territory following an infringement at the ruck.

Setting up the maul from the lineout ball, Whitgift patiently directed their ship before their own loosehead, Michael Young, managed to dot the ball down.

With George Pearson, in for Gallagher at full back converting, that narrowed the gap to just 15-12 with four minutes on the clock. It was, oddly, the first converted kick at goal of the match, showing just what tricky conditions the players were having to deal with.

Heartbreak suddenly appeared to be on the horizon for the hosts, having been so good for the majority of the game. They are a side adorned with quality though and they soon realised that the safest way for them to see this game out was to play it in Whitgift territory, preferably with the ball in their own hands.

They went one better, setting up a series of phases deep in Whitgift territory before shipping the ball out to outside centre and vice captain Cameron Ives, who simply rounded the drifting Whitgift defence to score a fourth try of the match for St Joseph’s College, sealing with it a memorable 20-12 victory.

It will be another home tie in the quarter final for St Joseph’s, with Wilmslow High School from North A the opponents. St Joseph’s will not say it publicly, but you suspect that this is a team with every chance of going all the way to Twickenham, and with support like theirs, what an atmosphere that would be.

Full Time: St Joseph’s College 20-12 Whitgift

Photos of the game can be seen of our Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/FifteenRugby

Teams

St Joseph’s College

Pos

Whitgift

Luke Palmer

1

Michael Young

Albi Sayer

2

Martin Bontea-Ungureanu

Luc Jeannot

3

Ryan Bodkin

Oli Watts

4

Richard Kulenicz

Ethan Hughes

5

Sven Kerneis

Henry Hayes-Burt

6

Sidney Holland

Luke Cerely

7

Santos Geldenhuys

Sam Easton

8

Joe Hughes (c)

Matthew Wadling

9

Alex Patton (vc)

Nathaniel Abery

10

Fergus Donnelly

Adrian Sanday

11

Funsho Ajayi

Ethan Waddleton (c)

12

Brandon Bellamin

Cameron Ives (vc)

13

Thomas Griffiths

Owen Betts

14

Edward Hutton

Tom Emery

15

George Pearson

Replacements

Will Payne

16

Anthony Morriss

Joe Cook

17

Edin Gumrukcu

Josaia Wacokcoke

18

Rashid Reid

Max Stanway

19

Konrad O’Neill

Ross Taylor

20

Gregoire Dubois

Jacob Dormer

21

James Blake

Tommy Newbigging

22

Noah Ferdinand

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