Dr Challoner’s will join Thomas Hardye at Twickenham Stadium on Wednesday 29th March for the U15 NatWest Vase final after a tight and tense semi final victory over Welland Park.
The Allianz Park semi final finished up 10-8 in the favour of Dr Challoner’s, whose crucial early try in the second half was perhaps the key moment in the game.
The game was level at just 3-3 at the break, with Dr Challoner’s Ainle McGuinn and Wellan Park’s Will Dawson exchanging penalties in what was an incredibly tight half of rugby.
The previous game had also been very tight at the break, before Thomas Hardye burst into life in the second half with seven tries, and it seemed like a similar situation could unfold in this second game as just a minute after the break Dr Challoner’s had scored.
The outstanding Ainle McGuinn, who along with number 8 Hugo Lane had a superb game, stormed through the midfield to score under the posts for a quite brilliant score.
Converting his own try he gave his team a 10-3 lead, and before long they were back on the attack. The parallels wit the previous game were there for all to see, however this Welland Park side is clearly made of stern stuff, and they simply refused to give in.
Twice during this phase of heavy pressure they held Dr Challoner’s up over the line, and twice they eventually managed to clear their lines.
That brave defence was rewarded midway through the half when they finally secured some possession of their own, releasing Harry McCarthy down the right hand side, and the winger showed fantastic speed to fly over in the corner following a big break from Ben Marshall.
The touchline conversion was just too far away though, meaning that Dr Challoner’s kept their 10-8 lead, and on the balance of play, that was just about right.
It had been a scrappy old game, and as fingers got cold with the temperature dropping, that scrappiness only increased. But both sides showed tremendous spirit as they fought for every inch with desperation, such was their desire to reach Twickenham at the end of the month.
Ultimately it was Dr Challoner’s who were able to hold out, on balance a fair result. They had been made to work hard for their win, but had enjoyed the bulk of the most dangerous periods of territory and possession throughout the game.
They now move on to face Thomas Hardye at Twickenham, who will produce a different sort of threat, but if Dr Challoner’s can continue to produce this level of spirit, they will have every chance.
Full Time: Dr Challoner’s Grammar School 10-8 Welland Park Academy
|U15 NatWest Vase Semi Final 2 Teams – Dr Challoner’s v Welland Park|
|Dr Challoner’s||Pos||Welland Park|
|Ben Smythe||1||Charlie Power|
|John Galvin||2||Thomas Melody|
|Julian Shaw||3||Charlie Sheppard|
|Jacob Brown||4||Matthew Robinson|
|Jake Longhurst||5||Josh Guerriero|
|Charlie Douglas||6||Shea Harley|
|Theo Staples||7||Will Adams|
|Hugo Lane||8||Ben Marshall|
|Dan Holmes||9||Ewan Jones|
|Jack Carling||10||Will Dawson|
|Sam Turner-O’Toole||11||Jake Sterland|
|Ainle McGuinn||12||Tom Wainwright|
|Cian McGuinn||13||Seth Vials|
|Felix Hale||14||Harry McCarthy|
|Louis Groom||15||Jacob Cowley|
|Assad Khafagi||16||Joe Winter|
|Tom Burke||17||Will Henderson|
|Finn Lockwood||18||Harvey Lloyd-Williams|
|Otto May||19||Fabian Boddy|
|Lewis Mackenzie||20||Will Parry|
|Angus Johnstone||21||Elliot Sneath|
|Ross Mackenzie||22||Alex McGregor|