Thomas Hardye put in one of the great Schools Cup first half performances to beat reigning champions Dr Challoner’s Grammar School 62-7 in the U15 NatWest Vase final at Twickenham Stadium.
It truly was a stunning display, sending them in 45-0 up at the break. It wa like a reversal of their semi final, where they went in at 5-5 against Bridgewater before a stunning second half saw them win 48-5.
Here it was that brilliant first half that killed the game off before it had really begun, while the second half was a more slender 17-7, for which huge credit must go to Dr Challoner’s, who showed incredible spirit in a fairly dispiriting situation to produce an even second half contest.
That second half display will have given their players and supporters something to be proud of, as should just reaching this final. For Thomas Hardye, everything about this performance will be a proud memory, from their run to the final, their brilliant performance throughout, their stunning first half performance, and resilient second half performance, where they unloaded their bench and they stood up well to a Dr Challoner’s side who were doing everything they could to salvage some pride.
Perhaps proudest of all should be fly half Orlando Bailey, or perhaps proudest after his parents, the young standoff was quite simply outstanding, scoring 17 points and collecting the man of the match award.
His points were far from the most important aspect of his game though, with ball in hand he was a creative force beyond compare, it was truly one of the great NatWest Vase individual performances.
Credit should also go to his centre partnership, who each bagged a brace. Outside centre Freddie Marsden securing his after just 20 minutes having scored his first just three minutes into the game.
His second kick started the period of the game that really killed off any Dr Challoner’s hopes. Thomas Hardye were already 14-0 up thanks to his and centre partner Frankie Read’s first scores, his third made it 21-0 with Bailey’s wonderful touchline conversion.
From there Thomas Hardye scored three more tries in just three minutes, a triple-whammy that was a complete body blow for Dr Challoner’s and pretty much sealed the game for Thomas Hardye as Reece Vincent, Will Simpson, and the effervescent Bailey all crossed.
With half time approaching, the found time for one more as Yihan Kershaw saw great pace to round the Dr Challoner’s defence to make the half time score Dr Challoner’s 0-45 Thomas Hardye with Bailey’s conversion.
Heading into the second half, Dr Challoner’s must have been fearing the worst, but they showed outstanding character to dominate the early proceedings and score a well worked try through Ainle McGuinn, who converted his own try.
Thomas Hardye responded shortly after as Frankie Read completed his brace, but from there the game was a far tighter one as Thomas Hardye unloaded their bench and Dr Challoner’s really dug in.
It took until the closing minutes for Thomas Hardye to cross again, with captain John Stewart driving over, before substitute Jacob Cox showed great pace in the final play of the game to put the final score past sixty, at 62-7.
It was truly an astonishing performance from Thomas Hardye, and that first half performance will go down in history as genuinely one of the greatest ever. Look out for this group as they progress through the age-grades.
Full Time: Thomas Hardye 62-7 Dr Challoner’s Grammar School
15 Louis Groom, 14 Felix Hale, 13 Cian McGuinn, 12 Ainle McGuinn, 11 Sam Tuner-O’Toole, 10 Jack Carling, 9 Daniel Holmes, 1 Benjamin Smythe, 2 John Galvin, 3 Julian Shaw, 4 Jacob Brown, 5 Jake Longhurst, 6 Charlie Douglas, 7 Theo Staples, 8 Hugo Lane (c).
Replacements: 16 Assad Khafagi, 17 Tom Burke, 18 Finn Lockwood, 19 Otto May, 20 Lewis MacKenzie, 21 Angus Johnstone, 22 Ross MacKenzie.
15 Nathan McNab, 14 Yihan Kershaw, 13 Freddie Marsden, 12 Frankie Read, 11 Samson Marshall, 10 Orlando Bailey, 9 Joe Message, 1 Reece Vincent, 2 Joel Clarke, 3 Sam O’Connor, 4 Will Adler, 5 Ed Martin, 6 Zach Southall, 7 Stefan Perry, 8 John Stewart (c).
Replacements: 16 Mathew Adshead, 17 Taylor Moore, 18 George Kent, 19 Jack Hayward, 20 Will Simpson, 21 jack Adams-Spencer, 22 Jacob Cox.