Day four of the HSBC Rosslyn Park National School 7s saw the conclusion of the highly competitive Festival, as well as the start of the flagship Open tournament.
The two U18 tournaments vie for attention in the morning before the Festival really begins to fire with the semi finals and final in the afternoon, with the Open knockouts taking place tomorrow, the final day of the tournament.
Stowe and Tonbridge stood out all day in the Festival, and it was therefore fitting that they reached the final, and what a final it was.
Stowe raced to a 10-0 lead before Tonbridge cut the gap to just a single try ahead of half time. Stowe had a good blend of pace and physicality, a useful trait in what had become a somewhat sodden Rosslyn Park after a torrential hour of rainfall around midday.
Stowe added a third try in the second half to go 15-5 ahead, but Tonbridge, ever spirited, fought back with another score as they too looked to use their physicality to get past their opponents.
It was a tense and emotional final, as ever, but Stowe were the deserved winners by a 15-12 scoreline. Their pace and power through the likes of Rotimi Segun and Seun Coker was outstanding and all day they had caused teams problems with it, topping a quarter final pool that also included Blundellâ€™s and Epsom College, who were both predicted by many to go far, before then winning their semi final pool with a 29-7 victory over Stonyhurst College and a 25-7 win over Bedford Modern, two schools who had been terrorising their opposition up until that point.
Tonbridge were equally devastating, topping a quarter final pool that included Berkhamsted and the hugely impressive Denstone College before then beating Seaford Colelge 33-17 and Cheltenham College, impressive all day, 24-12 to top their semi final pool.
Despite fears that too many teams were now in the Open, the Festival once again proved to be a top class and exciting competition, with two great finalists.
Stowe certainly deserved their silverware after a tremendous couple of days of work.
Over in the Plate Cranleigh picked up the title, beating Worth 19-10 in the final. Cranleigh had topped a quarter final pool with Bradford Grammar and Ellesmere College before then narrowly edging past Royal Hospital School to top their semi final pool after a 19-0 win over Prior Park.
The Open tournament, as always had plenty of excitement and bucketloads of top quality rugby. The tournament started with Champions Millfield on the showcase pitch, and they showed all of their class throughout the day, topping their pool to set up an Elimination round tie tomorrow morning against Kirkham Grammar School, who have taken their form to Rosslyn Park for sure, topping a tricky pool B that included Llandovery College in style.
Last yearâ€™s runners up, John Fisher, only just squeaked through as the best runners up after they finished second behind Coleg y Cymoedd in Group P.
Fisher now face the other top runner up, St Josephâ€™s College, who finished behind Merchiston Castle in Pool D in bizarre circumstances. The two sides met in the final game of the group, but suddenly realizing that both were going through, St Josephâ€™s started to let Merchiston score, believing that finishing as runners up would give them a potentially easier draw tomorrow. Merchiston as winners will play Pool C winners Brighton College.
Hampton played some fine rugby to top a very tricky Pool E that also included Warwick and Solihull, their reward is a very tough elimination game indeed, against Coleg Sir Gar, who ousted the 2014 Festival Holders Bedford in Pool F.
Hartpury College made light work of Pool H, dominating their group to finish top and will play Pool G winners Bryanston, who kept the likes of St Benedictâ€™s at bay.
Many peopleâ€™s hot favourites for the title are Wellington College, and they certainly looked like they were in the mood to go all the way as they soared to the top of Group I. They look strong favourites in the next round too, where they face London Oratory, who kept out two schools with great reputations in Worcester 6th form College and former winners Whitgift.
Cowbridge and Sherborne topped K and L and will meet tomorrow, both will be thinking that they have a shot at mounting a real challenge now.
The Plate final last year and the full final the year before were contested by Woodhouse Grove and Sedbergh and they will meet once again at Rosslyn park tomorrow in the elimination round after they topped Groups M and N respectively. Sedbergh will probably be favourites but these two have plenty of history here to fight over.
Finally then to Groups O and P, which were topped by St Paulâ€™s Catholic College, the only AASE side besides Hartpury to qualify, and Coleg y Cymoedd, who forced John Fisher into second.
Tomorrow should be an intriguing day. Once the elimination round is done, the winners go into 3 Cup quarter final pools, with the winners of those plus the best runner up forming the semi finals. The Plate will run along the same lines but with the losers from the elimination round.
It certainly looks like being a high quality day of rugby!
The Girls tournaments also take place tomorrow. There is an eight team AASE tournament, as well as a twenty team Open tournament, both of which ought to see plenty of high quality action on what is always one of the favourite days of the tournament for many, with so many of the games being accessible to watch given the reduced number of fixtures.
The final word on Day 4 must go to Stowe though, who were magnificent over the two days as they secured the HSBC Rosslyn Park National School 7s Festival title.
Day 4 Results/Day 5 Fixtures
Cup Final: Stowe 15-12 Tonbridge
Plate Final: Cranleigh 19-10 Worth
Festival Cup & Plate Semi Final Pools
Royal Hospital School
Prior Park College
Kingâ€™s College Taunton
Semi Finals Results:
Group 1: Stonyhurst 7-29 Stowe, Bedford Modern 24-5 Stonyhurst, Bedford Modern 7-25 Stowe
Group 2: Seaford 17-33 Tonbridge, Cheltenham 12-24 Tonbridge, Cheltenham 26-31 Seaford
Plate 1: Cranleigh 19-0 Prior Park, Prior Park 5-22 Royal Hospital School, Cranleigh 19-17 Royal Hospital School
Plate 2: Reedâ€™s 12-14 Worth, Kingâ€™s College Taunton 7-10 Reedâ€™s, Kingâ€™s College Taunton 12-31 Worth
Festival Cup Quarter Final Pools
Festival Plate Quarter Final Pools
Prior Park College
Royal Hospital Sch
Kingâ€™s College, Taunton
Millfield 2nd VII
Groups â€“ Final Standings (Each group ordered by finishing positions, 1 to 5):
Kirkham Grammar School
Wallington County Grammar
St Josephâ€™s College
SGS Filton College
Queen Elizabeth HS
Mount St Maryâ€™s College
Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni
Coleg Sir Gar
Bryanston School 1st VII
St Benedictâ€™s School
Dartford Grammar School
City of London Freemenâ€™s
Ysgol Gyfun Y Preseli
Coleg Gwent Crosskeys College
Worcester 6th form College
Chislehurst & Sidcup GS
USA HS All American, London
Nottingham High School
St Paulâ€™s Catholic College
Coleg y Cymoedd
Peterborough Regional College
Leicester Grammar School
St Davidâ€™s Catholic College
Open Elimination Round:
Millfield (A) v Kirkham Grammar School (B) â€“ RE1, 10.20
Brighton College (C) v Merchiston Castle (D) â€“ RE2, 10.20
Hampton (E) v Coleg Sir Gar (F) â€“ RE3, 10,20
Bryanston (G) v Hartpury College (H) â€“ RE1, 10.40
Wellington College (I) v London Oratory (J) â€“ RE2, 10.40
Cowbridge (K) v Sherborne (L) â€“ RE3, 10.40
Sedbergh (M) v Woodhouse Grove (N) â€“ RE1, 11.00
St Paulâ€™s Catholic College (O) v Coleg y Cymoedd (P) â€“ RE2, 11.00
John Fisher v St Josephâ€™s College â€“ RE3, 11.00
Open Quarter Final Pools:
A â€“ 10.20 Winners
B â€“ 10.40 Winners
C â€“ 11.00 Winners
Plate Quarter Final Pools:
A â€“ 10.20 Losers
B â€“ 10.40 Losers
C â€“ 11.00 Losers
Open Semi Finals: 3 QF Winners & Best Runner Up
Plate Semi Finals: 3 QF Winners & Best Runner Up
Open & Plate Finals
Girlsâ€™ AASE Groups
Hartpury College 2nd VII
St Columbaâ€™s College
SGS Filton College
Bishop Burton College
Peter Symonds College
Queen Elizabeth HS
Reigate Grammar School
King Henry VIII School
Filton College 2nd VII
Wisbech Grammar School
Coleg Sir Gar