Wellington College reached the U15 NatWest Cup final for the second year in a row with a brilliant 36-5 victory over Whitgift at Allianz Park.
The 2008 winners will head to Twickenham on Wednesday 29th March seeking redemption after a surprise defeat in last year’s final to Sedbergh. This may be a different group of players, but make no mistake, they want to secure that victory, two defeats in a row at HQ is not something that they will be willing to contemplate.
They will face the toughest of tasks when they get there though, in the shape of a Warwick side chasing history, and with an opportunity to win both the U18 and U15 titles on the same day. That is something that Wellington College are highly familiar with themselves, having done the same back in 2008.
It promises to be a titanic clash, and one that Wellington well head into feeling full of confidence after an utterly dominant performance in this semi final at Allianz Park.
There was little that Whitgift could do to resist the relentless Wellington College power, with loosehead Fin Baxter and number 8 Edward Johnson particularly powerful and threatening all afternoon.
It seemed early on like it could be close, with Whitgift earning a penalty, albeit it one that went wide, but Wellington quickly then asserted their physicality on the game. With 11 minutes gone Fin Baxter grabbed his first score of an incredibly powerful brace, blasting over from short range.
Five minutes later his side were over again, this time through openside Cassius Forshaw, a famous surname in Wellington College rugby circles, again blasting over from short range, with Max Thomas converting for a 12-0 lead to last year’s finalists.
Three minutes later they were over the line again and, ridiculous as is might sound when only nineteen minutes in, it felt as though that was the score that sealed the game for Wellington.
Whitgift had the ball in midfield, but Wellington’s tall, rangy, second row, Max Watson, stuck out a giant mitt just inside the Whitgift half and gobbled up the ball, the yards, and eventually the tryline to send his side 19-0 up, once Thomas had added the extras.
That was how the scores would remain to the half, with Wellington having a man sent to the bin during a rare period of Whitgift pressure, and therefore closing up the game until that period was over.
It was, you felt, crucial for Whitgift’s chances for them to score the first points of the second half. They had, in glimpses, shown in attacking pace and skill that had got them to this point, but were just unable to finish off, and were then overpowered when Wellington had the ball.
It was a real blow for them, then, when Fin Baxter completed his brace for Wellington just 7 minutes into the second half, powering over after a strong driving maul from the rest of his forward pack.
If that was not the game done, then seven minutes later it really was as Arvind Sangha completed a try-scoring full house for the Wellington second row, as they secured another powerful try from close range, and a superb 29-0 lead.
It had been a truly magnificent effort from this proud old rugby school. But Whitigft are just such a school as well, and it was fitting that with four minutes left on the clock they managed to cross for a try of their own through second row Alexander Ezimora. It had to real impact on the result, but was a deserved reflection on their perseverance, their bravery in defence, and actually their quality in attack. When they had had decent ball, this Whitgift side had some real quality in their arsenal.
So too did Wellington College though, the game had been all about their power, but they are far from lacking in the skill department either. With the very last play of the game they managed to score a try that proved it as well, sweeping the ball from one side of the field to the other before releasing substitute Paul Dewey to go absolutely flying in from just outside of the Whitgift 22.
With Thomas converting, it sealed a truly brilliant 36-5 victory for Wellington College, who now head to Twickenham looking to repeat the success of that magnificent 2008 side and to avenge last year’s tough defeat.
On today’s evidence, they have every chance, but Warwick will be a fierce test, chasing their own history.
Whatever happens, we have a magnificent final ahead of us.
Full Time: Wellington College 36-5 Whitgift
|U15 NatWest Cup Semi Final 2 Teams – Wellington College v Whitgift
|Joseph Vajner (vc)
|Sumatera Saragih Simarmata
|Charlie Beckett (c)