Anyone making the trip to Leatherhead this afternoon was treated to one of the great spectacles of schools rugby as Seaford College secured a 36-31 win at St John’s.
It was a truly exceptional game of rugby, with the momentum in the game swinging back and forth. Repeatedly Seaford would build a lead only for the home side to respond in style as they clawed back the gap.
With less than ten minutes on the clock Seaford led 33-26, only for St John’s Leatherhead to surge into the Seaford 22 and release their man down the left wing to narrow the gap to just two points.
Despite still being behind, the momentum was with St John’s at this stage, and with a big home crowd behind them the sense was that if there was to be another score it would be for them.
It was therefore a great sign of the character and determination of this Seaford College side, whose intensity was immense, that they managed to secure a penalty in St John’s territory, which they slotted over with the final play to secure the 36-31 victory.
It ended a brilliant game of rugby that had been played at a ferociously fast pace throughout. Seaford brought supreme power, physicality, and intensity, while St John’s looked to go wider. Overall through the game it would probably be fair to say that Seaford had the bulk of the run of the game, however St John’s played with a spirit and a guile that kept them in it right to that last kick.
Seaford took an early lead with a well worked score down the right hand side after St John’s had missed a penalty, however, as was to be the pattern for the rest of the game, St John’s hit back on the twenty minute mark after some superb combination play between their two centres.
They swiftly followed that with a beautiful score after turning Seaford over while they were attacking the St John’s 22, and then shipping the ball to the outside centre, who streaked away to score a brilliant try.
Seaford found time before the break to hit back though after some simple hands saw them with an overlap to finish on the left hand touchline. With the conversion pushed wide though, St John’s took a 14-12 lead into the break.
It was in the five minutes following the half time break though that the game was truly won as Seaford scored two tries within a minute of each other to go from 14-12 down to 26-14 up. It was a hammer blow, built off some almost unplayable physicality in the 15 metre channels as their giant back row made some serious hard yards.
It was probably that bullocking 6, 7, 8 combination that was the difference between the two sides, their strength and physicality punched holes in the St Johns defence all afternoon.
Once again though St John’s refused to lie down, first scoring a strong try through their captain and number 8, and then, taking advantage of a Seaford yellow car, scrambling over for a second in quick succession to level the scores at 26-26 with twenty minutes to go.
It stayed that until ten minutes do go when Seaford took advantage of some messy ball at a lineout to dive over for a try that looked like it had sealed the game at 33-26.
As it turned out, that score was enough, but with St John’s pulling it back to 31-33 it certainly did not feel that way. The momentum had shifted the way of the home side and it took tremendous composure from the Seaford contingent to hold out for the win and secure the penalty at the death.
It was a truly exceptional game of rugby, and a true advert for schools rugby, a game between two very good sides. Seaford were the deserved winners though, their ability to breach the gainline proving crucial. St John’s spirit is not to be dismissed though, it was exceptional.
Full Time: St John’s, Leatherhead 31-36 Seaford College
Your can see photos of the game, plus links to more, via this link to our Gallery: St John’s v Seaford photos.