After a thrilling opening day at the 2016 St Joseph’s Festival the eight teams competing for the De La Salle Cup are now known.
Millfield, Cranleigh, Brighton College, Denstone College, Merchiston Castle, RGS High Wycombe, QEGS Wakefield, and Dulwich College will all compete for the Cup tomorrow, with the remaining eight teams competing for the Plate.
(Full group standings, results, fixtures for tomorrow, and tomorrow’s groups can be seen at the foot of this article)
That barley even scratches the surface of the story on what was a breathtaking opening day at the 30th annual St Joseph’s Festival.
Groups 2 and 4 went right down to the wire, with try count required to separate the teams in second, third, and fourth. The drama was at its highest right at the end of the day, with the final round of games being in the host school’s group, St Joseph’s College.
QEGS Wakefield were already safely through having beaten St Joseph’s College and Dulwich College, they faced Eltham College in the final game on Pitch 2, with Dulwich College facing the hosts on Pitch 1.
Dulwich had lost their opening game of the day to Eltham College, who are coached by their former Director of Rugby, Sam Howard, thanks to a brilliant piece of drama as Eltham scored in the final play of the game. Dulwich then lost to QEGS, while Eltham were beaten by St Joseph’s.
Dulwich therefore entered that final round of games on the back foot but knowing that a win and a healthy try count might just see them through (try count was the deciding factor here, not points difference), particularly with Eltham facing QEGS, who look like they could be among the title favourites after day 1.
It is far from that simple though, for St Joseph’s College at their own Festival can be an inspired group, particularly with a baying crowd five or six deep in places and a bar that had been well used, this was a tough atmosphere to play in. Dulwich were simply magnificent though, rising to the occasion to secure a 26-7 victory in one of the most spirited displays of the day. QEGS then did their part for Dulwich, beating Eltham College 38-0, which meant QEGS and Dulwich both qualified for the Cup, with St Joseph’s and Eltham finishing 3rd and 4th respectively, and facing the Plate competition on Sunday.
Dulwich’s reward is to be drawn in a perilous looking Group A alongside Millfield, RGS High Wycombe, and the imperious Brighton College, who looked the pick of the bunch on this first day.
Brighton College raced to the top of Group 2 today with strong win over Denstone College and St Peter’s Gloucester, before a narrower 12-7 win over the defending champions, Hampton, to seal top spot.
Hampton will not be able to defend their title tomorrow though, they will be in the Plate after a shock defeat to St Peter’s Gloucester, 8-7, in their opening game of the day put them immediately on the back foot.
They gave themselves a chance though with a last minute try levelled their game against Denstone College, before Louis Lynagh’s conversion sealed a dramatic win.
Like Group 4, that meant that one team, Brighton College, were safely through by the final round, while the other three, Hampton, Denstone, and St Peter’s, were all in with a chance of grabbing that other qualifying spot.
Denstone were the ones to seize it though, beating St Peter’s 15-7, while Hampton lost to Brighton, meaning that the defending Champions will be in Plate Group W tomorrow alongside RGS Newcastle, Gordon’s, and Eltham College. Denton’s challenge will be a tough one, they are a man down in their squad after one of their second rows was sent off in their opening defeat to Brighton College for a senseless headbutt, perhaps the only blot on the copybook on what was otherwise a superb day all around.
Merchiston Castle had a stunning day in Group 3, they secured wins over Whitchurch High School, Gordon’s, and most impressively RGS High Wycombe (12-6), to seal top spot and a place in Cup Group B on Sunday.
They will be joined by QEGS, who look impressive, Denstone College, and Cranleigh. Cranleigh looked in superb form in the morning, and were winning against multiple winners Millfield at half time in their final game of the day, however a stunning comeback saw Millfield claim top spot in the group and passage to Cup Group A tomorrow.
John Fisher are normally to be found in the Cup on Day 2, but this year they will be in the Plate having lost to Millfield and Cranleigh before having their pocket picked by three RGS Newcastle penalties in their final game, it was intelligent play from RGS who played this shortened time format of the game perfectly.
John Fisher will be in Plate Group X tomorrow, with Whitchurch, St Peter’s, and the hosts, St Joseph’s for company.
The action all begins again tomorrow at 08.30, with the Plate Group W kicking things off, RGS Newcastle play Eltham on pitch 1 with Hampton facing Gordon’s on pitch 2.
The Cup action will begin with Group A at 09.05, Millfield will play Dulwich College on pitch 1 with Brighton College v RGS High Wycombe on pitch 2. At 9.40 Plate Group X takes over, with Cup Group B starting at 10.15.
You can see photos from the day’s play at the St Joseph’s Festival on our Facebook Page via this link: Gallery – St Joseph’s Festival 2016, Day1.
|St Joseph’s Festival Day 1 Groups – Final Standings|
|Pos||Group 1||Group 2||Group 3||Group 4|
|1||Millfield (Q)||Brighton College (Q)||Merchiston Castle (Q)||QEGS Wakefield (Q)|
|2||Cranleigh (q)||Denstone College (q)||RGS High Wycombe (q)||Dulwich College (q)|
|3||RGS Newcastle||Hampton||Whitchurch High School||St Joseph’s College|
|4||John Fisher||St Peter’s, Gloucester||Gordon’s||Eltham College|
|St Joseph’s Festival – Day 1 Results|
|Time||Pitch 1||Pitch 2|
|09.00||Millfield 19-3 RGS Newcastle||Cranleigh 25-5 John Fisher|
|09.40||Hampton 7-8 St Peter’s||Denstone 3-38 Brighton|
|10.20||RGS High Wycombe 18-6 Gordon’s||Whitchurch 10-20 Merchiston|
|11.00||Dulwich 8-12 Eltham||QEGS 13-7 St Joseph’s|
|11.40||Millfield 17-9 John Fisher||Cranleigh 27-0 RGS Newcastle|
|12.20||Hampton 7-5 Denstone||St Peter’’s 0-40 Brighton|
|13.00||RGS HW 18-5 Whitchurch||Gordon’s 0-36 Merchiston|
|13.40||Dulwich 10-15 QEGS||Eltham 3-10 St Joseph’s|
|14.20||Millfield 11-7 Cranleigh||John Fisher 8-9 RGS Newcastle|
|15.00||Brighton 12-7 Hampton||St Peter’s 7-15 Denstone|
|15.40||Merchiston 12-6 RGS HS||Whitchurch 24-0 Gordon’s|
|16.20||St Joseph’s 7-26 Dulwich||QEGS 38-0 Eltham|
|St Joseph’s Festival Day 2 Groups|
|Group A (Cup)||Group B (Cup)||Group W (Plate)||Group X (Plate)|
|Millfield||Merchiston Castle||RGS Newcastle||Whitchurch HS|
|Brighton College||QEGS Wakefield||Hampton||St Joseph’s College|
|RGS HW||Cranleigh||Gordon’s||John Fisher|
|Dulwich College||Denstone College||Eltham College||St Peter’s|
|St Joseph’s Festival – Day 2 Fixtures|
|Time||Pitch 1||Pitch 2|
|08.30||RGS Newcastle v Eltham College||Hampton v Gordon’s|
|09.05||Millfield v Dulwich College||Brighton College v RGSHW|
|09.40||Whitchurch v St Peter’s||St Joseph’s v John Fisher|
|10.15||Merchiston v Denstone College||QEGS Wakefield v Cranleigh|
|10.50||Gordon’s v RGS Newcastle||Hampton v Eltham College|
|11.25||Millfield v RGSHW||Dulwich v Brighton College|
|12.00||Whitchurch v John Fisher||St Joseph’s v St Peter’s|
|12.35||Cranleigh v Merchiston||QEGS v Denstone College|
|13.10||RGS Newcastle v Hampton||Eltham College v Gordon’s|
|13.45||Brighton College v Millfield||RGSHW v Dulwich College|
|14.20||Whitchurch v St Joseph’s||John Fisher v St Peter’s|
|14.55||QEGS Wakefield v Merchiston||Cranleigh v Denstone College|