There were fewer games than usual on the schools circuit this weekend, thanks to the start of the half term break, but what games there were were of the highest quality, not to mention the outstanding St Joseph’s Festival.
This week’s Top 5 Schools Teams of the Weekend reflects that, with some big schools getting big wins, others just impressing us no end, and some smaller schools laying down a big statement.
It was a clash of two teams with great records as Berkhamsted welcomed Felsted to town, and that always makes for an intriguing match up, particularly now that we are into the guts of the season so those records have a real sense of momentum about them too. The two sides have only lost to Harrow, who are among the very best this year.
It certainly proved to be a close game and it was one that Berkhamsted really had to battle to win, Feslted were ahead for a good while. Battle they did though, and to come away with a 25-18 win was highly impressive. They now head into the half term break in fine form, and no team will fancy facing them.
Stunning. What more can we say about Hampton than stunning? They were the class of the field at the St Joseph’s Festival and were the deserved champions. They were simply brilliant in every department of the game and were unplayable at times. Given the quality of schools on show at St Jo’s, that really is remarkable.
Their defence was impregnable, just one try conceded across the two days and seven games of play. It took an inspired RGS High Wycombe side in the final to eventually breach that defence.
On the first day they scored 63 points in one match, impressive at the best of times but in a ten minutes each way fixture, it is scarcely believable. In captain Roman Malin-Hiscock they had the player of the tournament, and Zak Santos alongside him in the centres was probably not far behind, but it is unfair to pick out individuals, for this was all about collective brilliance. Stunning.
Kirkham Grammar School
Kirkham have been quietly going about their business this season, heading into the weekend they had won five out of five, and yet they had somehow slipped a little below the radar, there had not been too much mention of them.
A 42-14 win over an Abingdon side in fine form themselves should surely change that. It was a brilliant win, and also propelled Kirkham into the top ten of the Daily Mail Trophy.
They are a side that needs to be shouted about, they were astonishingly good last year and they appear to have lost none of that quality this year. Next half of term will be tougher for them with a trickier fixture list, but on this form, it will be the opponents doing the worrying, not them.
The Sedbergh machine keeps on rolling, another win, another week at the top of the Daily Mail Trophy, another huge score, and another glorious display from those backs.
A 48-24 win is impressive on any day, but against a strong and in form Barnard Castle side, it is very impressive. By all accounts Barnard Castle actually had perhaps the slight upper hand in the forwards, yet Sedbergh’s brilliant backs and superb defence allowed the to be 19-0 up at the break and to go on to win the game 48-24.
They seem to be a side that even when you have them worrying about one area of the game, they can use a different aspect of it to go for the jugular. Highly impressive.
Tiffin were written off, dismissed almost, by us ahead of their game against the unbeaten Reigate Grammar School on Saturday. How very, very, wrong we were.
Our talk had been of how Reigate were unbeaten and looking good but needed to challenge higher up the perceived pecking order, what it should have been was of how Tiffin are a tough nut to crack, a determined side who can punish you if you give them the chance. That is exactly what Tiffin did, winning a nailbiting game 22-20 and eradicating the possibility of them being written off for the remainder of the season. Magnificent.