Hampton produced a simply stunning two days of rugby to secure the St Joseph’s Festival title for the first time in the school’s history.
They impressed in every facet of the game, from scoring over sixty points in a group game against the Eastern Barbarians U18, to only conceding one try throughout the entire tournament, a rearguard action spanning seven games.
They breezed through their opening day group, doing so without conceding a single point, but in their day 2 group they were pitted against a strong Merchiston Castle side, the impressive Brighton College, and Cranleigh, who along with Hampton were many people’s favourites for the title.
Hampton made light work of Merchiston though, beating them 22-0, and backed that up with an 8-0 win over Brighton College. Cranleigh meanwhile had also beaten the Scots comfortably, 26-0, but had found it tough against Brighton, though they still won 10-6.
That set up a mouthwatering ‘semi final’ between Hampton and Cranleigh as it was the final group game, with the winner guaranteed a place in the final.
Cranleigh gave Hampton their toughest game of the competition to date, but the men from South West London eventually managed to secure a comfortable 17-6 win, although a late try made the score look a lot more comfortable than perhaps it really was. Either way, they were the deserved finalists, and had looked like the sharpest team in the tournament – their passage to the final had been superbly simple.
The same could not be said of Group B, where heading into the final round of the Group three teams could still win it, Millfield, Dulwich College, and RGS High Wycombe. Millfield and Dulwich played each other, while RGS were playing Solihull.
The passage seemed simplest for Millfield, having won their first two games they just needed a win. RGS and Dulwich needs victories, points difference, and to score two tries.
It all seemed as though Dulwich were set to go through, not only were they beating Millfield, but they had scored the two tries that they required to lead RGS on try count back, plus RGS were behind against Solihull.
However in a couple of short minutes that all changed as RGS came back against Solihull, and levelled the try count. Suddenly nobody was quite sure who was through, RGS eventually went through on points difference, but not before everyone had had a chance for a good bit of confusion.
The end result was that the 2015 St Joseph’s Festival final would be between Hampton and RGS High Wycombe. The wonderful Hampton took an early lead from a driven, and from there the just kept the game tight and refused to let RGS play the game they wanted. They chipped away with a penalty too to go 8-0 ahead, and inspired by their outstanding captain and centre, Roman Malin-Hiscock, they just refused to yield field position or momentum to RGS.
RGS deserve credit though, without doubt they gave Hampton their toughest ride of the tournament, and even scored a try at the death, the first that Hampton had conceded, but ultimately nothing could stop Hampton, who played with an intensity and precision throughout the weekend that nobody could match.
Their attacking play was excellent, but it was that defensive effort that really stood out, they so rarely looked like a side that were under pressure, and were the deserved champions.
Over in the Plate competition, Denstone College took the spoils. They topped a very tough pool that was a three way duel with themselves, John Fisher, and RGS Newcastle, after Eastern Barbarians had had to pull out due to injuries.
That put them into the final against a brilliant QEGS Wakefield side, who had upset the locals by knocking out hosts St Joseph’s College after the two sides drew.
That seemed like a real momentum booster for QEGS, however in the final they met a truly determined Denstone College side, who just refused to be beaten.
That is not to say it was not close though, it was a slender 12-10 victory, and it took a QEGS missed conversion after a try in the last play to avoid the game going into extra time. Denstone were the outstanding side in that competition.
Try of the tournament went to Millfield’s Nathan Thomas for a wonderful effort against Solihull, the only try of that particular game.
The last word though must go to Hampton School, who were simply outstanding, not a person in the ground could complain about their victory, such was their brilliance over the weekend.
|Trophy Group A Final Standings|
|Trophy Group B Final Standings|
|1||RGS High Wycombe||2||0||1||4|
|Plate Group W Final Standings|
|2||St Peter’s, Gloucester||2||0||1||4|
|3||St Joseph’s College||1||1||1||3|
|Plate Group X Final Standings|
|St Joseph’s Festival Day 2 Schedule|
|Time||Pitch One||Pitch Two|
|08.30||St Jo’s 7-12 St Peter’s||QEGS 14-10 Gordon’s|
|09.05||Hampton 22-0 Merchiston||Cranleigh 10-6 Brighton College|
|09.40||RGS N 12-5 John Fisher||Denstone w/0 E Baa Baas|
|10.15||Millfield 7-0 RGSHW||Dulwich 10-0 Solihull|
|10.50||St Jo’s 31-0 Gordon’s||QEGS 10-0 St Peter’s|
|11.25||Hampton 8-0 Brighton College||Cranleigh 26-0 Merchiston|
|12.00||RGS N w/0 E Baa Baas||Denstone 12-8 John Fisher|
|12.35||Millfield 7-3 Solihull||Dulwich 3-14 RGSHW|
|13.10||St Jo’s 7-7 QEGS||Gordon’s 0-19 St Peter’s|
|13.45||Hampton 17-6 Cranleigh||Brighton College 7-34 Merchiston|
|14.20||Denstone 7-6 RGS Newcastle||John Fisher w/o E Baa Baas|
|14.55||Millfield 0-12 Dulwich||Solihull 12-15 RGSHW|
|15.30||Plate Final – Denstone College 12-10 QEGS Wakefield|
|16.15||Cup Final – Hampton 8-5 RGS High Wycombe|
Player of the Tournament – Roman Malin-Hiscock (Hampton)
Try of the Tournament – Nathan Thomas (Millfield) vs Solihull