U18 Schools Vase: Eastbourne College seal Regional Final spot after win v Reigate

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Coach Logic

Eastbourne College won a game of fluctuating momentum with a 22-11 win over Reigate Grammar School in the fourth round of the U18 Vase London & South-East Group.


With Reigate’s Hartswood pitches deemed unsuitable for a game at this level after days of heavy rain, the venue was switched to the excellent 4G pitch at Horsham RFC. Thankfully the clouds had parted to give way to a chilly but sunny afternoon, highlighting the beautiful autumn colours at the Hammer Pond Road ground. Both sides had experienced mixed records with some good victories balanced by losses to strong sides. A close game looked in prospect, with Eastbourne, having a slightly stronger fixture list, probably the narrow favourites on paper.


Eastbourne kicked off and, although they conceded two early penalties, soon established superiority at the set scrums. Although Reigate had enjoyed the put-in, a tremendous shove by the Eastbourne forward pack, led by captain and loose head, Wales U18 International Theo Bevacqua, forced a penalty. With possession won from the ensuing line-out, the ball was moved to the backs and then taken on by the forwards. Another penalty gave Eastbourne an attacking line-out on the Reigate 22 on the left.


With possession won, a strong carry by Bevacqua took play inside the 22 and quick ball from the ruck saw fly-half Zak Hebron cut through on the right to touch down. However referee Mr Ward had spotted crossing and play was brought back for a penalty, immediately reversed (any hint of dissent by either side was swiftly punished throughout). Eastbourne opted for a scrum, from which play was switched right to wing Oliver Carter who made ground to the corner, but was stopped by the cover defence, giving Reigate a 5m scrum. After two resets, with pressure from the Eastbourne front row, Reigate were able to clear.


The Sussex school continued to dominate possession and territory. Good hands on the left and another big carry from Bevacqua took play to within 5m of the line and Eastbourne remained camped inside the Reigate 22 looking certain to record the opening score. However, that was not to be, as a grubber kick was charged down and regathered by Reigate fly-half Will Timmons inside his own 22. With the Eastbourne full-back up in attack, the way to the Eastbourne line was open and Timmons just had the legs to outpace the cover defence to score in the corner. His own touchline conversion attempt was unsuccessful.


Eastbourne were quick to respond, winning successive penalties on the right to set up an attacking 5m scrum, from which No 8 Sean Collett picked up and attacked the short side. He was stopped by the Reigate blindside flanker and held up by the defence. However, the tackler was judged to have been off side and Mr Ward showed him yellow. The penalty was taken quickly and the man advantage quickly exploited, as the ball was switched to the backs and Carter cut through to score under the posts, centre Spike Gleave converting.


Reigate worked hard to prevent another score before half-time, winning line-out ball and using No 8 Edward Russ as the main ball carrier. However, when a knock-on gave Eastbourne a scrum, excellent handling from first phase ball saw wing Toby Clarke step his way close to the line and quick ball gave Bevacqua the chance to drive over. There was no stopping the Eastbourne captain from that range and he plunged over for his side’s second try, Gleave again converting.


Half-time: Reigate Grammar School 5-14 Eastbourne College


Having been restored to full strength just before the interval, Reigate set about reducing the deficit, looking more secure at the set piece. Winning a scrum on the right, good handling saw the backs make ground on the left and force a penalty, kicked to the corner by Timmons. Possession was won but the ball went forward and Eastbourne were able to clear, though quickly conceded a penalty on half way. Once again Reigate secured possession from the resulting line-out and forced another penalty in midfield, from which they elected to go for the points. Timmons duly stepped up and his kick from the tee bisected the posts.


From the restart Reigate secured possession and Russ made ground on successive carries to take play into the Eastbourne half, where another infringement gave the Surrey side the opportunity to take another three points, and Timmons was again successful from long range. Wth the shift in momentum a close finish to the game looked assured, but Eastbourne again started to dominate territory, winning a line-out on the right and again using Bevacqua to make some hard yards. Further pressure from the forward pack was met with tenacious defence and Reigate eventually cleared to half way.


A superbly directed kick from half-way to the Reigate line was followed by excellent chase and the Eastbourne forwards forced a penalty under the posts, from which Gleave took the points to stretch the lead back to six. Although Reigate secured the restart, with flanker Nat Kenyon carrying to half way, a penalty was conceded and kicked to the left corner by Eastbourne. With possession won the resulting maul started to make ground but was taken down, triggering a stern warning from Mr Ward and giving Eastbourne the chance to repeat the tactic. This time there was no stopping the maul, with Bevacqua holding the ball at the back and the Eastbourne captain crashed over for his second try. The touchline conversion attempt was unsuccessful.


With time running out, Reigate took every opportunity to move the ball through the hands, and a promising move on the left was stopped only by a deliberate knock-on, prompting a stern warning from Mr Ward. The penalty was kicked to the left corner and the chance for at least a consolation try beckoned, but the line-out ball was lost and Eastbourne were able to run out the clock.


It is always noticeable how a trophy competition gives a game an additional edge and this was an exciting game. Eastbourne arguably did enough to deserve the win, but the result was still very much in the balance at the start of the final quarter, with Reigate managing a commendable comeback. Eastbourne, at the bottom of the draw, will face another Surrey based school when they visit Glyn School in the Group final.


Full-time: Reigate Grammar School 11-22 Eastbourne College


By Peter Crawshaw



Reigate GS: Henry Dawson, Tommy Radford, Sayon Kirubakaran, Joe Jenner (Capt), Patrick Florida-James, Matthew North (Vice-Capt), Nat Kenyon (Vice-Capt), Edward Russ, Edward McTavish, Will Timmons (Vice-Capt), Luke Perkins, Charlie Jackman, Dominic Flynn, Jack Grant, Xander Lawson

Replacements: Charlie Jenner, Daniel Fitzgerald, Joey Cross, Sam Kelly, Alexander Kowal, Edward Shires, Owen Knowles


Eastbourne College: Theo Bevacqua (Capt), Archie Bell, Henry Drew, Max Schnuppe, Max Faulkner-Bryant, Joe Lewis, Sam Anderson (Vice-Capt), Sean Collett, Leon Wood, Zak Hebron, Toby Clarke, Spike Gleave, Henry Turnbull, Oliver Carter, Reubin Hart

Replacements: Charles Reed, Josh Veitch, Toby Lock

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