Our last Top 5 School Teams of the Weekend of the first half of the season certainly took plenty of thinking about.
There were some extraordinary games of rugby this weekend, some impressively won tight games, some huge wins, some great comebacks, some spirited performances, even in defeat, and even some draws – could we include a side who had secured an impressive draw? We certainly though about Langley Park getting the nod after their draw at home to Judd.
In the end we went with one great comeback, one strong win in a crucial game, one excellent victory over a previously unbeaten side, on very big win when it seemed unlikely that one of that margin was on the cards, and perhaps the most extraordinary result of the season.
Top 5 School Teams of the Weekend
On the surface Clifton College’s 30-19 win over Bristol Grammar School was impressive but no more so than many of the other results this weekend. Dig a little deeper though and it is mightily impressive. Early on Clifton led 15-0, only from Bristol Grammar to fight back to a 19-15 half time lead. Clifton then fought back themselves with fifteen unanswered second half points for the 30-19 victory. Fighting back is a great effort in its own right, but to fight back having already had a sizeable lead taken from you takes both extraordinary skill and supreme mental strength.
An utterly dominant opening twenty minutes of the game saw Haileybury take a 24-0 lead against the unbeaten Stamford School 1st XV. That opening twenty minutes won them the game. The remaining 55 minutes were won 7-3 by Stamford, with Haileybury showing some truly epic defence for that 27-7 victory. At the top end of the game you often see such bursts of intensity making the difference in big games, and that was absolutely the case here. It was a key game, Stamford were unbeaten and looking good, possibly favourites or at least 50/50 heading in, so this was a really impressive result and performance from Haileybury.
KES had just the one victory to their name heading into Saturday’s game, where they faced a Colston’s side who were enjoying one of their best seasons in a long time, arriving unbeaten, with six wins from six. KES, however, were unintimidated by this record and not only went on to win the game, but won it in fairly comprehensive fashion, 32-7. It was a genuinely impressive win and may perhaps set them up to really kick on in the second half of term.
Rugby had only won two of their seven matches heading into Saturday, but they were judged to be narrow favourites against Trent College, despite their three wins and a draw from five games, due to a tougher fixture list in comparison. However what nobody could have expected, surely even Rugby School, was what happened. A 75-5 demolition. It was an extraordinary result, all the more so for the fact that Rugby had lost their last two in a row. It spoke not only of a good play but of fantastic determination to put right the wrongs of the last couple of weeks. Stunning stuff.
If you though that was extraordinary, this was even more so. Wellington College beat Bedford 71-14 on Saturday. Bedford the 2015 Champions Trophy winners and 2016 finalists, Bedford that had beaten Dulwich, who troubled Wellington a fair bit, so well last weekend. Bedford were, admittedly, heavily depleted through injury, finishing up with 14, but to take advantage in that way was quite outstanding from Wellington. The only conclusion that you can be left with is that this is just a truly exceptional Wellington College team. Putting sixty past Tonbridge earlier in the season was jaw-dropping, this was, if possible, even more so. Stunning.