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Eton off to a flyer in the Champions Trophy

The sun was shining and the conditions were perfect upon arriving at the aptly named “The Field” for the afternoons Champions Trophy match.

As far as interesting spectators go, Nick Kennedy, previously of London Irish and England, was seen roaming the sidelines in his London Irish stash. Having taken up a position in the academy setup at Sunbury last year Nick was presumably monitoring the Berkshire schools side for academy prospects.

The opening minutes belonged to Eton, both the 9 and 10 displaying slick distribution and good width on their passing. A break by Eton’s number 11 down the left wing led to a string of attacking phases ending with their outside centre sliding outside his opposite man and finishing under the posts. Eton’s inside centre converted the kick with ease.

After several failed attacking raids from Eton during the first ten minutes they received a lineout on Cranbrook’s 40 metre line. Swift service from the Eton 9 led to the blind side winger, no.11 again, breaking the line and feeding the full back to go over from 25 metres untouched. 14-0 to Eton after 12 minutes.

Cranbrook’s first attacking opportunity in the Eton 22 led to an impromptu chip kick from the right winger which was collected by their full back. A few phases later the Cranbrook second row crashed over from short range. The fly half missed the conversion and the score was 14-5 after 17 minutes.

A few minutes later Cranbrook received a free kick in Eton’s half, the 9 slowly crabbed across the pitch and then suddenly put on a slashing right foot step to break the line. The Kent side received a penalty off the back of good work from the 9 although the fly half again missed with the kick.

Both sides full backs looked dangerous returning kicks however it was the home sides left wing again who provided the go forward that led to Eton’s brilliant third try. The 11 broke several tackles down the left wing before some neat hands from the fly half and centre set their right wing free. The 14 fed back inside to the 13 who offloaded to the fullback who finally put their No.8 over the try line.

Five minutes later and again the Eton no.11 was causing havoc down the left touchline, the ball found its way to the Fullback who’s dummy and go fooled the Cranbrook three quarters and he dotted down under the posts, leaving the halftime score at 28-5 to the home side.

Shortly after half time Cranbrook receive a kickable penalty and the 10 slotted it over, 28-8.

Eton’s marauding style was typified by a quick lineout from inside their 22 which saw them take off from deep. The full back passed to the right wing who fed it along the line to the replacement winger, after some impressive footwork the 21 charged his way up to half way and all pressure was relieved. Cranbrook’s scrum half moved to full back shortly after this and performed brilliantly sweeping from the back including one notable scything tackle on Eton’s ever impressive and rampaging no.11.

The rain started to come down at this point which halted Eton’s dominance somewhat but it wasn’t long until their no.8 crashed over off the back of the scrum.

Two minutes later Eton’s full back completed his hat trick with a slashing run from 40 metres out, rounding the Cranbrook covering defender with some serious pace and an impressive left foot step. 40-8 with ten minutes left.

This concluded the scoring in the game and the last ten minutes were a scrappy affair with Eton knocking on several times in promising attacking positions.

Standouts were Eton’s back three who were a menace in attack complimenting each other nicely with a mix of power, pace and electric footwork. They were ably supported by their halfbacks throughout, the scrum half showed off an accomplished box kick and speedy delivery.

Cranbrook defended valiantly for large periods however they struggled in the set piece and in dealing with Eton’s flyers out wide. The scrum half and fullback played well with both breaking the line several times.

Having impressed in last year’s Champions Trophy, it looks like Eton will be among the favourites to win it this year.

Full Time: Eton College 40-8 Cranbrook

You can see our roundup of all of the Champions Trophy first round action here: Champions Trophy Round 1 – as well as our report from Haileybury v Stamford.

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By Charlie Tyler

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