There is something about the NatWest Cup that seems to drag some of the most gritty and determined performances out of RGS High Wycombe.
They are one of the tournaments most legendary teams, with a superb record in the mid-nineties, and always a regular feature in the latter stages. They will be again this year after they beat a strong Stowe side 14-0 in the last 16 this afternoon.
It was, as the saying goes, one for the purists. On a wet and windy day, and on a muddy track, it was never likely to be anything but that. If anything it made for a better occasion though. Consigned to a dogfight from the moment the weather closed in, this game was inevitably going to be high on passion and physicality, everything that a Cup tie, between two sides who have become akin to rivals in recent times, needs.
Pupils, staff, and parents packed out the touchlines and provided plenty of noise, and no little amusement at times.
On the field the physicality was serious, and the play direct as both sides opted to keep things tight lest spreading the ball too wide led to unnecessary risks and spillages in tricky conditions.
With the wind at their backs, RGS took advantage in the first half, taking a 9-0 lead into the break following three spectacularly long penalty efforts from their fly half, using not only the wind but also a long and lazy kicking style that sees the ball appear to drift on and on.
It was a clear display of how to play in such conditions, get the ball in the right area of the field, force the opposition into errors, and capitalise. As the half ticked to a close, Stowe offered up another error as they received a yellow card for repeated infringements.
It was to be the first of four yellow cards in a game that really was not that sort of game, despite being physically robust, some might have felt rather harshly done by.
Heading into the second half, Stowe performed the first part of what RGS had done to successfully with equal expertise as they played their way into RGS territory and the waited for the mistake.
However the second part of that method, capitalizing by taking the points, was where Stowe fell short. Rather than opting for the posts they went to the corner three times, and on each occasion the failed to score the try that they had to having made the call.
It was to end up costing them as despite twenty minutes of near constant pressure, they remained 9-0 down.
RGS then heaped even further pressure on the visitors as they scored a sublime try. Seizing on a kick return, their full back spotted a gap that the rest of us watching could only have seen in our dreams as he accelerated on a line diagonally down the inside left of his own half to the right hand touchline to score a wonderful try.
It put the hosts 14-0 up, and when Stowe soon saw a second yellow card, it felt like a very much uphill battle for the visitors to scrap their way into the quarter finals.
Scrap they did though, and for the remainder of the game they were camped in RGS territory. However the hosts were more than up for a scrap, and despite losing two men to the sin bin after repeated infringements, there was a sense that this RGS High Wycombe side was never going to let anyone cross their line today, such was the ferocity with which they defended it.
At the final whistle the scenes were jubilant, and rightly so, it was a magnificent performance from RGS High Wycombe, who join Hampton, QEGS Wakefield, Truro School, Warwick, Whitgift, Wilmslow High School, and the winner of Bedford Modern v Bromsgrove in the quarter final draw, which will be made at midday on Friday.
Full Time: RGS High Wycombe 14-0 Stowe
You can see photos from the game in our Gallery, which also includes links to more photos.
Make sure to tune in at 12.00 on Friday, when you will be able to watch the live stream of the quarter and semi final draws. Details to follow.