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Bromsgrove reach NatWest Cup final after incredible physical display

Bromsgrove reached their first NatWest Cup final at the first attempt with a superb 27-18 victory over Oundle at Allianz Park.

The game will be remembered as a fierce contest between two of the very best sides in the country, as a physical contest it was up there with the best and could well have gone either way.

It was superb defence from both sides that made for such an excellent contest, but from Bromsgrove it was a ten minute period of defence whilst a man down that really made the difference, as they showed outstanding determination, discipline, and physicality to keep Oundle out for the final twenty minutes of the game.

Oundle came out of the traps on fire, having a try disallowed within a minute due to a foot in touch, before scoring their first try of the game just three minutes later after Ben Curry chipped through, Curry along with his brother Tom had a simply outstanding game. Outside centre Toby Warner gathered it to streak away and score.

If that seemed like a big Oundle start though, Bromsgrove were having none of it, and just three minutes later they were scoring themselves. Their maul, a nightmare for Oundle all day, saw them absolutely charging towards the line, with loosehead Harry Ferguson the grateful recipient of the score at the tail.

Luke White’s conversion gave his team the lead, but from the restart that was wrestled away again immediately after an offside gave Oundle the penalty, which Angus McRae knocked over with ease to make it 8-7 to Oundle.

It was hard to believe that the game was just eight minutes in at this stage but finally it began to settle down, Oundle looking dangerous down the short side, and through the Curry’s and Cundell in the back row they looked particularly fierce. Bromsgrove’s power was immense though, and with White guiding them, and the pack using the maul brilliantly, they were a threat too.

So it proved as for the second time in the game the Bromsgrove maul proved too strong for Oundle to stop, first winning the West Midlanders a penalty on 26 minutes, which White knocked into the corner, before then being used from the resulting lineout for hooker Henry Walker to score his side’s second of the game.

With White converting Bromsgrove now held the lead, 14-8, and with that maul they must have been worrying Oundle. Oundle were causing problems of their own though, their defence and attack being equally physical, and one huge hit from Tom Curry on James Taylor felt like a momentum changer.

Certainly it helped secure Oundle some field position with five minutes of the half remaining. They battered away at the Bromsgrove line but, as it was all day, the physical Bromsgrove defence was proving hard to evade. However scrum half George Chatterton, as any good scrum half is, was a livewire and spotted an opportunity to take a tap penalty just a couple of metres out, catching the defence off guard before feeding Ben Curry to score – a beautiful piece of vision.

McRae slotted a tough touchline conversion, giving Oundle the lead again, 15-14, as the sides went in for the half time break.

Indeed it was Oundle who started the second half on the front foot, however some loose ball at a ruck saw Bromsgrove outside centre execute a brilliant pick up, reminiscent of Brian O’Driscoll in Paris all those years ago.

Looking up and seeing space he seared into it before offloading to Cooper Bent, who in turn shipped it onto Alex Nisbet his inside centre, who charged over the line and ‘Ash Splashed’ his way onto the scoresheet. Luke White, almost obviously by this point, slotted the touchline conversion, putting Bromsgrove 21-15 ahead.

What that meant was that Oundle were now always chasing the game for points, having to rush their game a little more than they might have liked and search for the overlap.

Bromsgrove were seizing on this, working hard to spoil the Oundle breakdown, and in turn frustrating Oundle into giving away penalties when Bromsgrove had the ball.

That paid dividends on 51 minutes as White banged over another penalty to further extend the lead, but McRae hit back with one of his own to make it 24-18 to Bromsgrove. A strong lead, but a converted try for Oundle would do it.

Oundle certainly knew that, and were looking for it, and through Toby Warner they had a man who for a fleeting moment looking like he might to it, as from his own half he rounded the defence before surging deep into the Bromsgrove 22.

As he offloaded Bromsgrove then killed the ball to prevent that score that would have turned the game on his head, but sacrificed Clegg for ten minutes as a result.

For ten minutes Oundle hammered at Bromsgrove’s line but their defence was simply superb. Given how well the Oundle back row trio were playing, that Bromsgrove could continually ruin their breakdown was a testament to the quality of their own pack’s play.

Time and again they repelled Oundle, before launching a few attacks of their own with a few minutes remaining. Once again that maul was to prove their ace in the pack.

With a lineout on the 22, Bromsgrove shaped to from but so fearful were Oundle of it’s potential progress that they gave away a crucial penalty, allowing White to put his side nine points clear with just two minutes remaining.

How fitting it was that two minutes later it was White again with his boot on the ball, this time blasting it in to touch for the final whistle, bringing with it Bromsgrove’s first ever NatWest Schools Cup final.

To have kept Oundle to just three points in the second ahlf told you everything you needed to know about this Bromsgrove side. Not only do they have an excellent attack and some top class players, but they are also a ruthless, determined, brave side. Not many could have won that second half 13-3, not many at all.

On to Twickenham, where if our readers are any judge, Bromsgrove do not just have a chance, they have an expectation of a result.

Full Time: Oundle 18-27 Bromsgrove

Bromsgrove

1. Harry Ferguson  2. Henry Walker  3. Harrison Fowke  4. Joe Morrice  5. Justin Clegg  6. Ben Schmermund  7. Harry Lloyd-Jones  8. Tom Ford  9. Paolo Parisi  10. Luke White (c)  11. Cooper Bent  12. Alex Nisbet  13. Chase Edwards  14. Jonty Thornton  15. James Taylor.

Replacements: 16. Jack Weston  17. Nikita Khatin  18. Will Hands  19. Ben Tibbetts  20. Beck Cutting  21. George Wootten  22. Will Lockhart.

Oundle

1. Myles Keane  2. Alistair Taylor  3. James Keating  4. Max Howard  5. Doug Russell  6. Ben Curry  7. Tom Curry  8. Francis Cundell (c)  9. George Chatterton  10. Freddie Johnsrud  11. Angus McRae  12. Freddie MacNaughton  13. Toby Warner  14. Oscar Marshall  15. Tristan Tusa.

Replacements: 16. David Golding  17. Alastair Wright  18. James Tarbatt 19. Charlie Bradbeer 20. George Barker  21. Angus Wight  22. Ollie Trotter.

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