Bishop Wordsworth’s secured their place in the U18 NatWest Cup Final at Twickenham Stadium by beating back to back champions Bromsgrove 41-19 at Allianz Park.
The Wiltshire side will now aim to go one better than that famous 1991 side, who lost to KES Stratford in the first ever final of this competition at U18 level when they visit the home of rugby on Wednesday 29th March.
It was a truly outstanding performance from the men in blue, who were simply superb in attack, taking almost every chance and putting the reigning champions under the sort of pressure that they have seldom been under in the last three years.
It was almost like Dulwich College’s win over Warwick in the 2013 final, a side who got their game plan spot on, put the pressure on right from the start and left their opposition chasing the game almost before it had begun.
All week Bishop Wordsworth’s will have talked about starting quickly and putting Bromsgrove under pressure, and that was exactly what they did. After just nine minutes they were on the scoresheet through a try from skipper on the day, Jared Cardew.
Skipper on the day, remember, because their captain and star player, Cadan Murley, was away with England U18. As if this victory needed any more reasons to talk about just how impressive a feat it was.
Just three minutes later following even more Bishop Wordsworth’s pressure, the champions’ discipline cracked and they lost Alex Smith to the bin. The Wiltshire men capitalized immediately through Xavier Hastings, playing in the back for to begin with before moving into the backline following an injury to Chris Nichols later in the half.
Suddenly at 10-0 down, Bromsgrove were to be chasing the game from that point on, and that played right into Bishop Wordsworth’s hands. This is a side who love to run the ball, and from anywhere, so with counter-attacks now much more likely with Bromsgrove having to try things, they were able to pounce.
On 25 minutes they had their third try, a stunning effort from Callum MacTaggart, who rounded three defenders in almost no space at all to score a wondrous try in the right hand corner.
Bromsgrove did admirably to bounce back and score a try of their own through Ben Turner to reduce the gap to 15-7, but then came the period that won the match for Bishop Wordsworth’s.
From five minutes before half time to three minutes after they crossed the whitewash three times, with a yellow card for full back Paddy Bates in the middle. 15-7 became 36-7 in that short period, completely taking the game away from Bromsgrove.
First Tom Boxer scored, followed by hooker Archie McEwan, before the returning Bates scored with a lovely finish just seconds after coming back from the bin.
If the two early tries had set up the chance for victory, this eight minute period was where the game was first won, and then put beyond doubt. It was the moment that the Bromsgrove NatWest Cup dynasty was broken, the moment the three-peat challenge, trying to repeat the feat of the side they beat in the 2015 final, Dulwich College, died.
When you are a side with that sort of record though, you are a side with bags of pride, and of course no little quality. Bromsgrove showed that pride and character in abundance from that point on, scoring from a driven maul through Joe Harper before the outstanding Oliver Lawrence scored a stunning solo try to restore a bit of pride, reducing the gap to 36-19.
You would have expected nothing less from this champion side, who were visibly wounded by what was happening to them on the pitch, they dug deep to step the tide and deserve great credit for it.
Ultimately though they were playing against a Bishop Wordsworth’s side who were inspired. They were paying simply outstanding rugby and were taking a real joy in what they were doing. It was utterly fitting that with five minutes left in the game they had the final say as Cardew put the cherry on the cake of his team’s day and his captaincy with his second try of the game.
It sealed a truly stunning 41-19 victory for Bishop Wordsworth’s, leaving everyone watching open-mouthed in shock at what a defeat had been inflicted on Bromgrove, but in joyous applause at what a stunning performance Bishop Wordsworth’s had put in. In their wildest dreams, one suspects, they would probably never have imagined quite such a dominant performance.
Dominant it was though, and now the side we backed early in the season as dark horses this year will be at Twickenham in the U18 NatWest Cup final for the first time since that famous day back in 1991. A magnificent achievement.
Full Time: Bromsgrove 19-41 Bishop Wordsworth’s
|U18 NatWest Cup Semi Final 1 Teams|
|Sam Morrice||1||Harvey Platt|
|Sergey Marchenko||2||Archie McEwan|
|Nick Sfrantzis||3||James McDonald|
|Cameron Baxter||4||Toby Peebles|
|Lawrence Weston||5||Tom Boxer|
|Alex Smith||6||Xavier Hastings|
|Joe Harper||7||Jared Cardew (c)|
|Ben Turner||8||Jamie Ellis (vc)|
|Peter Olley||9||Finley Lloyd-Gilmour|
|George Wootten||10||Joe Tully|
|Jackson Tavarez||11||Harry Norris|
|Lewis Maddox||12||Ollie Dykes|
|Oliver Lawrence||13||Chris Nichols|
|George James||14||Callum MacTaggart|
|Harry Thompson||15||Paddy Bates|
|George Smith||16||Adam Mercer|
|Himmat Bhandal||17||Luke Sainsbury|
|Archie Freer||18||James Kennedy|
|Richard Vaughan||19||Charlie Horrell|
|Georgy Muradov||20||Mathew Hick|
|Oliver Gittoes||21||Harry Mould|
|Oliver Plummer||22||Charlie Gentleman|