U15 NatWest Vase Semi Finals – Previews & Predictions

On Sunday the U15 NatWest Schools Cup semi finals day gets underway with the two Vase semi finals.

At 11.00 RGS Newcastle take on Sherborne before the 13.00 kick off between Oakham and Bishop Wordsworth’s.

All four games feature sides with real Schools Cup pedigree and ought to prove to be exciting spectacles at what is expected to be a busy and excitable Allianz Park, the home of Saracens.

RGS Newcastle have had a tough year, winning just one game outside of this competition. However that victory did come against one of the most famous rugby schools in the country, Barnard Castle, and by a convincing 31-15 scoreline.

Their confidence has built and built through this Vase run though, to the extent that they will arrive at Allianz full of confidence having beaten the likes of RGS Lancaster and Lymm High School in the final regional rounds, before showing their ability to close out tight games with a 17-14 victory against Felsted in the quarter final.

Sherborne, by contrast, have had a year full of victories, only losing twice outside of this competition, to excellent sides in Canford and Wellington College (who reached the Cup quarter finals). Their only other defeat came in the Cup version of this competition, to King’s College Taunton.

They therefore arrive at Allianz full of confidence from an excellent season, and buoyed even further by a superb 21-8 victory over St Columba’s at the quarter final stage.

Both school have Twickenham experience, though perhaps not as recently as they would like. Sherborne were U15 Cup runners up back in 2004, while RGS Newcastle have twice been runners up in the U18 Cup, in 2010 and 1994. Both will be desperate to get to Twickenham again and to go one better than their predecessors by lifting the Vase.

Oakham v Bishop Wordsworth’s looks like being an equally good semi final. Oakham have immense Schools Cup experience, they are one of the biggest names in the competition’s history. Their U18s have won the Cup twice, in 2002 and 2003, and reached the final again in 2011.

Perhaps most relevant of all though, they have been in the final of this competition too, back in 2005.

This season has not been their most consistent but they have picked up four wins outside of this competition, including over local rivals Oundle and Stamford. That has helped them build some irresistible momentum in this competition, culminating in their 24-13 victory over St George’s College, Weybridge, in the quarter final.

Bishop Wordsworth’s, like Oakham, have Twickenham experience, though it was some time ago. Back in 1991 their U18 side reached the Cup final.

This season they have had a similar pattern to Oakham, picking up three victories, against King Edward VI, Southampton, Churcher’s College, and crucially against Dauntsey’s back in the second round of the Cup, a feat that no other side in the Vase semi final managed.

Their momentum has built up over the course of this Vase run, and their 25-17 victory over Stockport Grammar School in the quarter final was a great example of that, as was a victory over Beechen Cliff earlier in the competition.

Both semi finals look set to be excellent games and should provide an excellent curtain raiser to the two Cup semi finals later in the day. Though with four good sides on show, these two Vase semi finals will be great matches in their own right.

U15 Vase Semi Finals – Sunday 8th March, Allianz Park:

11.00 RGS Newcastle v Sherborne

13.00 Oakham v Bishop Wordsworth’s

U15 NatWest Vase Quarter Final Results:

1 St George’s College, Weybridge 13-24 Oakham

2 Bishop Wordsworth’s v Stockport GS

3 RGS Newcastle 17-14 Felsted

4 St Columba’s College 8-21 Sherborne

XV Predictions: Sherborne & Oakham.

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