Northampton School for Boys finally have their Twickenham success, beating St Ambrose College 17-12 in the U18 NatWest Vase final.
Three years ago they lost to that outstanding Dulwich College side in the Cup final, this group of players were just fifteen back then, indeed the younger ones were not even at the school yet, but they all know the legacy. They definitely know the legacy though, be in no doubt.
What a triumph this was for them then, especially after coming through their semi final by the skin of their teeth, they only arrived by virtue of being the first try scorers after a draw with Bloxham.
In St Ambrose College they faced a feisty and highly attacking side, with scrum half Thomas Walsh a waspish player who would light up any game.
Northampton School for Boys had a man of their own just in that mould too though in the form of scrum half Connor Tupai, whose father plays at Bedford. Tupai was outstanding throughout, even bagging a drop goal with seven minutes left to play that effectively sealed the game for his side.
Northampton trailed for most of the first half after an early try for St Ambrose number 8 Ciaran Booth.
Both sides then missed kickable penalties before St Ambrose lock Niall Broderick was sin binned with just a few minutes left of the half. It was a pivotal moment, barley a minute later Northampton were across the line, Callum Inwood drving over form a five metre lineout. Thomas Holliday landed the conversion to send the teams into the break level at 7-7.
St Ambrose were straight back on form early in the second half though, with the outstanding centre Connor Doherty, so good in the semi finals, scoring a fine solo effort in the right hand corner to put the North Western side back in the lead at 12-7.
That was to be it for St Ambrose on the scoring stakes though, from there on out Northampton were the side pushing the scoreboard.
As the pressure came on they flew up at St Ambrose’s kickers, eventually managing to charge one down expertly, with Joshua Arimoro gathering brilliantly for an easy run in, allowing Jake Johnson, who, like Tupai still has another two years left at the school, an easy conversion for 14-12.
All that was left after that was for Tupai’s superb chance drop goal, casually taken from the back of a dwindling ruck, which stretched the advantage to five points, forcing St Ambrose to go for the try that Northampton School for Boys were never going to allow them to score.
It is a Northampton School for Boys side to look out for too, eleven of these players will be back again next year, and their star players were those two fifteen year olds, Johnson and Tupai. They will go back with this U18 Vase trophy feeling very confident of replicating, or even bettering, this type of success next year.
Northampton School for Boys 17-12 St Ambrose College
Northampton School for Boys
15 Henry Timm, 14 Christian Morgan, 13 Joshua Arimoro, 12 Jake Johnson, 11 Christian Barry, 10 Thomas Holliday, 9 Connor Tupai, 1 Jake Diggin, 2 Mattias Farmer (c), 3 Alex Pittaway, 4 Toby Stanton, 5 Thomas Rowlatt, 6 William Salt, 7 Callum Inwood, 8 Joseph Britton.
Replacements: 16 Alexander Barlow-Doran, 17 Thomas Robinson, 18 Oliver Clarke, 19 Doug Scoles, 20 Henry Dunn, 21 Samuel Pinnock-Attfield, 22 Connor McCabe.
St Ambrose College
15 Callum Francis, 14 Sam Gallimore, 13 Kieran Dunne, 12 Connor Doherty, 11 Tom Hughes, 10 Jacob Hughes, 9 Thomas Walsh, 1 Alex Oakes, 2 George Edge (c), 3 Daniel McDonagh, 4 Rory Crossen, 5 Niall Broderick, 6 Thomas Booth, 7 Ben Hughes, 8 Ciaran Booth.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Leonard, 17 Kieran Lalley, 18 Sean Donnelly, 19 Gregor Nolan, 20 Rory Devereux, 21 Ciaran Grieves, 22 Will Seth-Smith.