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Schools Rugby Weekend Preview & Predictions: Quality keep on coming after glorious midweek games

The great schools rugby fixtures just keep on coming as a superb weekend of schoolboy rugby looms.

 

It was a sensational midweek of rugby, with Bedford winning the Champions Trophy, and some outstanding NatWest Cup ties, along with the likes of Sedbergh’s victory over Wellington College.

 

Those huge fixtures keep on coming over the weekend, with a number of teams tasked with getting back up on the horse after tough games in midweek, individuals and teams are going to have to dig deep.

 

5 Key Fixtures

 

Abingdon v Bedford

 

If Bedford were looking for an easy game following a draining, but brilliant, victory over Epsom College in the Champions Trophy final on Wednesday, Abingdon away would not have been the game that they would have picked.

 

Abingdon are unbeaten at home, and have only lost twice in all competitions, one of those away at Kirkham Grammar, who are unbeaten and sit third in the Daily Mail Trophy table.

 

Bedford though, tired as they might be, surely must be full of confidence and excitement at playing after Wednesday’s victory. It was no lucky win, they are up there with the very best sides in the country this year, a win on Saturday would further back that up.

 

Prediction – Bedford

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Hampton v John Fisher

 

This is always a good game of rugby between two tough sides. Hampton go into it as favourites after winning the St Joseph’s Festival just before half term.

 

Since then though, they have found life tricky, losing to Wellington College and Dulwich College, and drawing with Berkahmsted. In midweek though they finally returned to winning ways with a strong win against a good Reigate Grammar School side.

 

John Fisher though will sense that perhaps they have a chance, but they too have had stuttering form since the break. Like Hampton though, they recorded a good win in the Cup in midweek, against New Hall, and will be fired up.

 

It should be fascinated, but Hampton at their best can beat anyone, and ought to fancy their chances on Saturday.

 

Prediction – Hampton

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Kirkham Grammar School v Woodhouse Grove

 

Kirkham go into this game unbeaten and with their eyes firmly set on a challenge for the Daily Mail Trophy. They currently sit in third behind Sedbergh and Wellington College, but having beaten Sedbergh, and seen Sedbergh beat Wellington on Wednesday, Kirkham will see no reason why they should not be challenging hard for the title.

 

In their way on Saturday are the 2013 Champions, Woodhouse Grove. They suffered a dip last year but are back in business this year and sit sixth in the table at present.

 

Only QEGS Wakefield and Bradford Grammar have defeated Woodhouse Grove this year and they are enjoying a good Cup run too. Kirkham might be a bridge too far, but it is far from certain.

 

Prediction – Kirkham Grammar

 

Tonbridge v Dulwich College

 

Tonbridge are a strong side this year, and as the weather turns it seems to be making them stronger still as their performances continue to crank up.

 

Victories this term have included the likes of St Paul’s (31-0), Harrow, and Cranleigh. There have been three defeats, but none since September, which says much of their recent form.

 

Dulwich are in good form too. They have lost more than they would like, but when the big teams roll in, Dulwich keep on performing, as shown by victories over Wellington College early in the season, and particularly against the St Joseph’s Festival champions Hampton last week.

 

This should be a classic game of schools rugby, and will without doubt be a huge physical contest.

 

Prediction – Tonbridge

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Whitgift v Millfield

 

Whitgift are in flying form this season. Their only defeats have come to Sedbergh and Wellington College, who sit first and second in the Daily Mail Trophy table, which really tells you all that you need to know.

 

Victories over Warwick, RGS High Wycombe, and Dulwich College have been impressive, but Millfield will be a big test.

 

The Somerset side have not been at their best this season, but when you look at the four games they have lost, they have been those same two as Whitgift, the NatWest Cup Champions Bromsgrove, and Welsh legends Llandovery College. Suddenly it seems tough to criticize those defeats.

 

What it suggests is that the weekend ought to produce a good and close game of rugby. Predicting it is tough, and comes down to gut feel as much as anything else.

 

Prediction – Millfield, by a whisker.

 

Five outstanding games of schools rugby await, but that it far from it, there are brilliant games going on all day on Saturday, as the five we have selected for our next five previews shows.

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Five Previews

 

Clifton College v Sherborne

 

A bit of a schoolboy classic, and a fixture between two very good teams. Clifton College are actually unbeaten this season, and their only dropped points have been draws against Bryanston and Bishop Wordsworth. They have beaten the likes of Rugby, Sir Thomas Rich’s, and Champions Trophy semi finalists, Blundell’s.

 

Sherborne have lost a few games, but their fixture lists has probably been a little tougher. Even so, they have only lost two regular season games, and one in the oldest four, and before an injury crisis they were playing in a manner that put them right up there with the best.

 

Their backline in particular was astonishing, and if they can find their rhythm then this side is a delight to watch. Either way, we should be in for a gret match.

 

Prediction – Clifton College

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Durham v St Peter’s York

 

Durham have been in great form this season, appearing early on to be one of the strongest sides in their circuit.

 

That form has just dipped in the last couple of weeks though after a defeat to Woodhouse Grove last weekend, and then another to RGS Newcastle, whom they beat earlier in the season, in the NatWest Cup on Wednesday.

 

St Peter’s season has also been a strong one, they too have lost to Woodhouse Grove, but where Durham’s form is a touch off, St Peter’s form seems to be right where they want it to be, with three wins in a row – including a victory over RGS Newcastle.

 

It suggest a fascinating game, these two are evenly match, but perhaps on form St Peter’s just edge it.

 

Prediction – St Peter’s

 

RGS Newcastle v Bradford Grammar School

 

It was a tough opening half of the season for RGS, but since half term they have only lost once, that defeat to St Peter’s mentioned above.

 

They will be full of confidence after that cup win over rivals Durham, but Bradford Grammar will be one of the toughest opponents they have faced for a while.

 

Bradford were unbeaten since the end of September until last weekend’s defeat to an excellent QEGS Wakefield side, and will want to get straight back to winning ways on Saturday, suggesting that we could be in for an excellent game of rugby.

 

Prediction – Bradford Grammar, just.

 

St Paul’s v Eton College

 

A fascinating fixture between two old and prestigious schools, and close rivals. Not only that, but a fixture between two schools who are playing some magnificent rugby this season.

 

St Paul’s were unbeaten since losing to Champions Trophy runners up, Epsom College, in early September but have suffered a little in recent weeks, taking a heavy beating against Tonbridge and drawing with Berkhamsted. Nonetheless, they are a very strong side and will be looking for a reaction against Eton, particularly if weather allows for running rugby.

 

Eton look to be around a similar standard to St Paul’s, though they have lost a couple more. They certainly arrive on top in the form stakes, having won their last two, setting up what should be a classic.

 

Prediction – St Paul’s

 

Uppingham v Oakham

 

The Rutland derby between these two schools who share so much history, including their school crest. Fixtures between them are always fierce, and the chat on and off the field is always amusing. Back in 2005 after a memorable victory for Oakham, with Alex Goode at fly half, at Uppingham, the Uppingham side went out to train the following day only to see the scoreline imprinted on the turf. No mention of whether the Saracens and England full back was behind it!

 

What is shows though is the fierce competition between these two sides, and that will be no less on Saturday. Both have had tough seasons, Oakham’s best result is a draw against Stamford, while Uppingham have a few wins to their name, but fewer than they would want.

 

Oddly though, perhaps Oakham might be slight favourites, whilst wins have been hard to come by, they have been very competitive, pushing Oundle, who are top class, hard. It is a tough game to call.

 

Prediction – Oakham, just.

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Around the Grounds

 

There are a number of other huge fixture this weekend, for instance Berkhamsted v Rugby stands out as a good fixture between a side in top form and the most famous Rugby town in the world.

 

King’s Macclesfield v Stonyhurst College looks like a great game between two of the top school on the northern circuit, while Mralborough College v Canford also has the look of a good contest.

 

RGS High Wycombe v St Benedict’s will certainly have plenty of excitement, can St Benedict’s bounce back from a tough midweek cup loss against an in form RGS side?

 

Stamford look to extend that now five year unbeaten home run as they host St Albans, while defeated Champions Trophy finalists, Epsom College, travel to St John’s Leatherhead, which ought to be a good fixture.

 

As ever, do let us know your results, and if you have any photos, match reports, or videos from the weekend’s play, please send them in to writers@fifteenrugby.com

 

Schools Rugby Weekend Fixtures (predictions in bold):

 

5 Key Fixtures:

 

Abingdon v Bedford

Hampton v John Fisher

Kirkham GS v Woodhouse Grove

Tonbridge v Dulwich College

Whitgift v Millfield

 

5 Previews:

 

Clifton College v Sherborne

Durham v St Peter’s, York

RGS Newcastle v Bradford GS

St Paul’s v Eton College

Uppingham v Oakham

 

Other Key Fixtures:

 

Ampleforth College v Ashville College

Austin Friars v Newcastle School for Boys

Bedford Modern v Nottingham HS

Berkhamsted v Rugby

Birkdale v Hymers College

Bishop’s Stortford HS v New Hall

Blundell’s v Taunton

Bristol GS v QEGS Wakefield

Campion v Judd

Caterham v Cranleigh

Chislehurst & Sidcup GS v Skinners’

Christ’s Hospital v Hurstpierpoint College

Colfe’s v Emanuel

Cranbrook v Eltham College

Dauntsey’s v Lord Wandsworth College

Dean Close v Kingswood

Downside v Wells Cathedral School

Eastbourne College v Brighton College

Exeter v King’s College, Taunton

Framlingham College v Bishop’s Stortford College

Harrow v Radley College

KES Southampton v Hampshire Collegiate

King’s Macclesfield v Stonyhurst College

King’s Worcester v Bishop Vesey’s

Lawrence Sheriff v Bablake

Leicester GS v Wisbech GS

London Oratory v Trinity

Loughborough GS v Sir Thomas Rich’s

Malvern College v St Edward’s Oxford

Manchester GS v Cheadle Hulme

Marlborough College v Canford

Monmouth v Old Swinford Hospital

Oratory v Magdalen College

Oundle v Haileybury

Pate’s GS v RGS Worcester

Prior Park College v KES Bath

Princehtorpe College v KES Aston

Reed’s v KCS Wimbledon

RGS Colchester v Ipswich

RGS High Wycombe v St Benedict’s

Royal Hospital School v Coopers Coborn

Solihull v Trent College

Stamford v St Albans

St Anselm’s v St Ambrose College

St John’s Leatherhead v Epsom College

St Olave’s GS v Tiffin

Stockport GS v Grammar School at Leeds

Stowe v Cheltenham College

Sutton Valence v King’s Canterbury

Wilmslow HS v Ellesmere College

Worth v Pangbourne College

Yarm v Pocklington

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