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Weekend Preview & Predictions – Top Schools set to go head to head early on

After some excellent performances last week, the second weekend of the school season is where things really start to take shape, performances start to take on the look of consistency, momentum starts to build.

Of course though this weekend is actually the first weekend for some schools, there has been something of a staggered start to the term this year compared with others.

Either way, there are some superb fixtures coming up this weekend for us to preview. Choosing just five for our Daily Mail Prediction Competition (which you can enter here) was a challenge, as was limiting ourselves to just five others to preview.

Nevertheless, we have some top quality fixtures to look at.

Daily Mail Trophy Prediction Competition Previews:

Ampleforth College v Grammar School at Leeds

This fixture stood out on the list for us because it feels very much like a battle between the old and the new. Ampleforth have a great rugby history, having produced players like Lawrence Dallaglio and Simon Easterby, while Grammar School at Leeds feel like a coming force, as shown by their run to the Champions Trophy final against Millfield last year.

Who will win, it is difficult to say, the feeling is that Ampleforth’s rugby is slowly moving upwards again, while for GSAL the question is how much have they been able to retain from last year’s success. Either way, this is a game that will be played in one of the most magnificent settings in the country.

Prediction: GSAL

 

Bromsgrove v Warwick

This is a monstrous game, the U18 NatWest Cup winners, Bromsgrove, against a side whose U6th and L6th both won the competition as U15s. History says that that means both of these sides will be among the pace-setters this year, and that in all likelihood that makes this game one of the biggest of the season.

Warwick perhaps come in with a slight advantage, they already have a game under their belts, doing brilliantly well to beat one of the legendary sides of the last few years, Dulwich College, 8-7. That game though took place with uncontested scrums so there is still a significant aspect of their game that has not been tested. Bromsgrove though come in cold, this is their first game, and a tougher start they could not have asked for. They are the Cup Champions though and will be more than ready.

Prediction: Too close to call. Perhaps Bromsgrove, just, with home advantage.

 

Dulwich College v Wellington College

Always a classic, and brutal, early season fixture this. Last year Dulwich were one of just two sides who did not lose to Wellington, drawing 13-13 on the same weekend of the season. That actually sparked Wellington into a different style of play, keeping the ball away from the tight, and the worry for Dulwich may be that Wellington will carry that new style through.

Both have already played, Dulwich just losing to Warwick, while Wellington looked comfortable in victory over RGS High Wycombe, but this game is always fiercely contested and close fought. Wellington should be favourites, but Dulwich will have a plan, never doubt that, and when they have a plan, more often than not it works.

Prediction: Wellington, but it will be a dogfight.

 

John Fisher v Trinity

A cracking local derby in Croydon. John Fisher v Whitgift is traditionally the big one in these parts, but with Trinity rapidly rising up the ladder in recent year, the games involving them just keep growing and growing in stature, particularly with quality of the standard of England U18 star Gabriel Ibitoye on the wing.

John Fisher are always a competitive side, and will be physical and low on errors for sure. They should never be written off in any game. Trinity just get our nod here though, they have real momentum, and with a huge improvement in their facilities as France arrive to set up camp for the Rugby World Cup, their momentum has carried through the summer.

Prediction: Trinity

 

Oundle v Stamford

Not only is this a pretty local derby game, it is also a game between two of the star teams of last season. Stamford are unbeaten at home in four years, and went through the entire regular season unbeaten last year. Oundle meanwhile were also outstanding last year, spurred on my their abrasive and brilliant flankers, brothers Tom and Ben Curry.

That makes this game fascinating, how much momentum have each side retained from last year? On last week’s evidence, Stamford have plenty, they hammered Princethorpe College to get off to a flying start. For Oundle this is the first game of the year.

It will be close, home advantage helps Oundle, they have a cauldron of a 1st XV pitch, and nobody wants to go away to Stamford these days with that record.

Prediction: Oundle, just.

 

Our other five featured fixtures look like they should be fascinating too, with a derby, some top sides from last year looking to stay on top, and a few teams looking to reassert themselves after a quiet season.

Bradford Grammar School v Hymers College

It was a mixed season for Bradford Grammar School last year, but you get the sense that they are very much on the up, and they certainly finished very well. For Hymers it was one of their very best seasons. They lost just three times all season, including a win over Saturday’s opponents.

How it goes tomorrow will depend on player retention from last year and what players each have brought through, but it seems as though both of these are headed in the right direction, making tomorrow fascinating. Hymers, you sense, have perhaps a little more depth, but it should be a great game.

Prediction: Hymers.

 

KCS Wimbledon v Wimbledon College

Local derbies are always a touch unpredictable, the Wimbledon one no less so. With KCS two from two so far this season, and Wimbledon College having a fairly heavy defeat as their solitary result so far, you would think that this one is looking like a KCS victory.

Certainly having seen KCS in action on Tuesday, they look a very good side and it looks as though it would take a top performance to beat them. However conclusions should not be drawn too fast. College’s defeat, while a little on the heavy side, was to Reigate Grammar School and they are a side who are going to beat a lot of sides this year by that sort of margin or greater. This should be an interesting one.

Prediction: KCS.

Bryanston v Marlborough College

This is a huge fixture to start the season off for these two prestigious schools. Both have undergone coaching changes, Bryanston’s Mike Pyrgos has retired, while Marlborough’s Charlie Harrison has stepped down after his spell in charge, with former Scotland captain Budge Poutney taking over.

Bryanston just dipped last year after a run of very impressive seasons, so they will be desperate to get back to where they were – and where they were was supplying a huge number of players to the England schoolboy set up. Marlborough will be looking to make that next step up to the top tier on the school front, against the teams just below that level they are good, but have just struggled against the very best. Saturday will be a great gauge of where both of these sides lie.

Prediction: Very tough to call. Bryanston as the home side.

 

Monmouth v Cheltenham College

This one really caught our attention. Monmouth were one of the really surprise packages last season, and one of the very best teams in the country. Yet last week they caught us all of guard in defeat to Sherborne.

Cheltenham meanwhile have a rugby programme that seems to be steadily, and with a good pre-season under their belts, and the former Gloucester and England full back Olly Morgan now guiding the ship, we are expecting big things of them.

That could start on Saturday, where Monmouth are probably favourites at home, but Cheltenham could well upset the odds for a momentum building victory.

Prediction: Cheltenham College

 

Uppingham v Bedford

Always an interesting fixture this. Uppingham have been chasing hard at trying to get back to their level of the early 2000’s, last year was certainly a step up but they will be keen to go up another level again this.

Bedford meanwhile tend to be a side for the hard grounds, they seem to booked the season incredibly well but suffer a bit in the wet autumnal weather, or they have over the last couple of years.

That makes tomorrow very interesting. At home Uppingham will be desperate to show what they can do, but with a sunny forecast in early September, this feels like Bedford’s domain.

Prediction: Bedford.

 

Overall it looks like being a fantastic weekend of rugby, and that is without even mentioning some of the other great fixtures on the card, such as Berkhamsted v Abingdon, Millfield’s start to the season at Canford, Haileybury v Bedford Modern, Oakham v Stowe, and Teddies Oxford v Rugby, among others. St John’s Leatherhead v Cranleigh is another worth keeping an on, Cranleigh have been very strong in recent years but St John’s have had some serious recruitment this summer and will be a formidable outfit, they could well take the win at home.

As ever, let us know what you think of our predictions – and don’t forget to send in your photos, videos, and any match reports from the weekend’s game, we would love to feature you and your school!

You can send anything and everything in to promotions@fifteenrugby.com@FifteenRugbyXV and www.facebook.com/FifteenRugby

Saturday Fixtures (predictions in bold):

Daily Mail Trophy Prediction Competition

Ampleforth College v Grammar School at Leeds

Bromsgrove v Warwick

Dulwich College v Wellington College

John Fisher v Trinity

Oundle v Stamford

Previewed Fixtures

Bradford GS v Hymers College

Bryanston v Marlborough College

KCS Wimbledon v Wimbledon College

Monmouth v Cheltenham College

Uppingham v Bedford

Other Key Games

Adams GS v Denstone College

Ashville College v Pocklington

Aylesbury GS v Campion

Barnard Castle v Dame Allan’s

Berkhamsted v Abingdon

Bishop’s Stortford College v Royal Hospital School

Bishop’s Stortford HS v St Joseph’s College

Bishop Vesey’s GS v Trent College

Bloxham v Magdalen College

Brentwood v Richard Hale

Bristol GS v Blundell’s

Canford v Millfield

Caterham v City of London Freemen’s

Chislehurst & Sidcup GS v Maidstone GS

Churcher’s College v Dauntsey’s

Dean Close v RGS Worcester

Downside v Queen’s Taunton

Ellesmere College v Old Swinford Hospital

Eltham College v Judd

Glyn v London Oratory

Gunnersbury v Tiffin

Haileybury v Bedford Modern

Harrow v Felsted

Hurstpierpoint College v Brighton College

KES Aston v Bablake

KES Bath v Kingswood

KES Southampton v Halliford

King’s College Taunton v Clifton College

King’s Macclesfield v Manchester GS

Kirkham GS v Sandbach

Leys v Norwich

Loughborough GS v King’s Grantham

Newcastle Under Lyme School v Stockport GS

Oakham v Stowe

Pangbourne College v Seaford College

Pate’s GS v Malvern College

Perse v New Hall

Plymouth College v Hereford Cathedral School

Portsmouth GS v Lord Wandsworth College

Princethorpe College v Ratcliffe College

Prior Park v Colston’s

QEGS Wakefield v RGS Lancaster

Reading Blue Coat v Shiplake College

Reigate GS v Christ’s Hospital

RGS Guildford v Hampton

RGS High Wycombe v Northampton School for Boys

Sedbergh v Wilmslow HS

Sevenoaks v Cranbrook

Sherborne v Radley College

Silcoates v Crossley Heath

Sir Thomas Rich’s v QEH

Skinners’ v Langley Park

Solihull v King’s Worcester

St Columba’s College v Haberdashers

St Edward’s Oxford v Rugby

St George’s Weybridge v Reed’s

St John’s Leatherhead v Cranleigh

St Paul’s v Epsom College

St Olave’s GS v Wallington CGS

Stonyhurst v Mount St Mary’s

Tonbridge v Eastbourne College

Wellington School v Taunton School

Whitgift v Bishop Wordsworth’s

Woodhouse Grove v St Peter’s York

Workshop College v Nottingham HS

Worth v King’s Canterbury

Wrekin College v KES Birmingham

By Angus Savage

@AngusSavageXV

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