U18 NatWest Vase: Royal Latin win a thriller to reach Twickenham final

Royal Latin School will face Trent College in the U18 NatWest Vase final at Twickenham Stadium on Wednesday 29th March.


They beat Silcoates 31-12 in a thrilling semi final here at Allianz Park to reach their first final since they won it as U15s in 2013.


The result followed Trent’s 29-15 defeat of The Perse in the previous game, where their power undid their opponents, and it looked like Silcoates may follow the same approach as this game started.


Possessing a much bigger side, the men in green came absolutely flying out of the blocks in the opening few minutes, eventually unlocking the door after a number of chances after they moved the ball wide following forwards pressure from Sam Guy to cross for a simple finish.


They came surging back on the attack soon after but the Royal Latin defence held out, and slowly but surely the balance of play began to even out, and with it the pace of the game just kept getting faster and faster.


Offloads were the name of the game, this match must have come close to breaking records on the offloading front, and it was offloads that were to unpick the Silcoates defence for Royal Latin as Joe Phillips, who had a storming game, crossing the whitewash. From a kick return his fly half Max Nagy shipped it to Harry Lewis, who broke the line and offloaded to Mike Taylor, who shipped it to Bacon, who in turn released Phillips to level the game at 5-5.


Still the game remained frenetic, until with just under ten minutes left in the half Nagy himself scored, waiting patiently for a bouncing ball to sit up before gathering and dotting down to turn a 5-0 deficit into a 12-5 lead once he had converted his own score.


Half time came around fast, such was the helter-skelter nature of the game, and any thoughts that it might slow down in the second half were quickly abolished when Joe Phillips was again on hand to receive the offload, this time after his outside centre Jonny Byatt had busted through the line from the Silcoates 22.


Nagy’s conversion put his side 19-5 up before arguably the moment of the match five minutes later. Again it was Joe Phillips who lit up the stadium with a stunning break from inside his own half. Weaving this way and that he eventually released the ball to his number 8 Harry Lewis, who finished off Phillips’ superb work by dotting down left of the posts, giving Royal Latin a commanding 24-12 lead.


It was quite simply a brilliant turnaround from the side who had looked under threat in those early periods. They soon came under threat again though as Silcoates eventually found their way back into the Royal Latin 22. Penalties soon followed and Tom Bacon eventually paid the price with a sin-binning, from which Silcoates almost immediately capitalised through a Jack Davis score and Harry Davey converson.


At 24-12 with fifteen minutes left, a comeback was possible, but Silcoates’ discipline then crumbled as Ryan Bolger and Adam Hopkinson received yellow cards in quick succession.


That opened the door for Royal Latin to seal the game, which they soon did through a powerful try from their forward pack, which Nagy ably converted to seal a memorable victory at 31-12.


It was a quite magnificent game, with so much free-spirited and running rugby. Never has the offload been more frequently used, and perhaps that was the difference, Royal Latin’s game is built on speed and width, where Silcoates were a little bigger and more direct, eventually that would play to Royal Latin’s hands given the way the game ended up being played.


It is a fantastic achievement for Royal Latin, who really were outstanding, and will now face a huge game at Twickenham at the end of the month against an outstanding Trent College side. It should be a superb game.


Full Time: Silcoates 12-31 Royal Latin


U18 NatWest Vase Semi Final 2 Teams
SilcoatesPosRoyal Latin
Dan Ramsey1Max Foster
James Flanagan2Tom Miller
Billy Fawkes3Tom Davies
Alex Grace4Ed Broome
Ben Jackson5George Metcalfe
Adam Hopkinson6Dan McGivern
Will Henshall7Jack Salisbury
Jack Davis8Harry Lewis
Harry Griffiths9Will Ellis (c)
Harry Davey (c)10Max Nagy
Will Forrest11Josh Rooney
Jacob Burnley12Mike Taylor
Ryan Bolger13Jonny Byatt
Sam Guy14Joe Phillips
Alex Ward15Tom Bacon
JJ Nuttall16Nick Ustaran-Anderegg
Nathan Clifford17Keiran Linger
Ben Watkin18Aks Bhattiprolu
Oliver Heptinstall19Josh Abbas
Joe Summers20Tom Erasmus
Matty Tolson21Josh Welham
Johan Adderley22Cameron Wright
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