St Paul’s School, Barnes resisted a strong comeback by KCS Wimbledon to clinch a 14-10 win in the group quarter-finals of the London & South-East Group A of the Schools National U15 Cup
These two schools are based only a few miles apart but play on slightly different circuits and so have few common opponents. St Paul’s have a very strong fixture list but have managed to record wins against Abingdon and Tonbridge. KCS after a strong start to the season winning four of their first five games have had some tough losses in recent weeks.
The St Paul’s ground staff had done an excellent job in getting the riverside pitches into playable condition, and, although the afternoon was overcast and chilly, it was a rare dry day with little wind. The home side kicked off and quickly regained possession, with the forwards driving to the KCS 22. After play had been switched to midfield KCS were penalised, giving St Paul’s the chance to set up an attacking lin-out in the left corner. With possession won, the St Paul’s forward pack drove close to the line and forced another penalty, from which St Paul’s chose to scrum. No 8 Nelson picked up from the base and although he was stopped short of the line that tackle was judged high. However, the referee allowed play to continue and loose-head prop Monro Davis forced his way over for the opening score, fly-half Pama converting.
Although St Paul’s caught the restart and kicked clear, they were caught offside giving KCS an attacking scrum on the left, from which they switched play to the backs, but a knock-on gave possession back to the home side. St Paul’s then continued to dominate possession and territory and a well-judged inside pass gave them the chance to take play to within 5m of the KCS line and win an attacking scrum. With possession won from the set piece, the ball was switched infield to Pama, who dived over close to the posts, but was judged by the referee to have lost control of the ball in the act of scoring. However, the referee also confirmed that he was playing advantage and St Paul’s kicked to the corner and set up a maul from the ensuing line-out. Although that well defended, possession was retained and centre Hayden Hunt crashed over on the right, Pama again converting.
After the restart had been well caught by second row Mikheev, both sides went to their kicking games to gain field position, but successive penalties conceded by the home side gave KCS their first real attacking opportunity, with a maul set up from a line-out on the left and No 8 Nathan Horne carrying. Progress to the left corner was maintained and second row Seth Eley forced his way over to narrow the gap. Although the difficult conversion attempt by inside centre Harry Stokes was well struck, it was unsuccessful but KCS were back in the game with half-time approaching.
Half-time: St Paul’s School 14-5 KCS Wimbledon
Following the restart, St Paul’s were again the first to gain good field position with a good break from Pama on the left, but he was stopped by the cover defence and although plat was taken on by the forwards St Paul’s were penalised. However, the KCS clearance kick did not find touch and Hunt took the ball at pace to make ground on the right and another break by Pama took play to within 5m of the line, but KCS forced a turnover and kicked clear.
After the initial period of dominance by St Paul’s the balance of play was now even, and KCS regained possession following a St Paul’s line-out, breaking down the left and taking play to within 5m of the line. Although St Paul’s forced a turnover and took play up to their 22, they were penalised there and KCS kicked to the left corner. Again the driving maul was set up and St Paul’s were judged to have stopped that illegally. The penalty was taken quickly and Eley again drove over to score in the corner. The conversion attempt was not successful.
Although KCS secured the restart, running out possession, the referee spotted a forward pass. From the ensuing scrum, the ball was moved to Pama who again broke on the left but was stopped by an excellent cover tackle from full back Alex Gillet. KCS won a scrum on their own 5m line, Eley packing down at the back and picking up at the base before kicking clear to half way himself.
KCS made some progress up field when St Paul’s were penalised, but they in turn conceded a penalty, enabling St Paul’s to set up an attacking line-out on the left. With possession won, the ball was moved through the hands and Hunt again broke through tackles on the right. Play was taken on but the KCS defence again held firm and KCS regained possession from the ensuing scrum, running the ball out to half way. Both sides worked hard in the closing minutes to find a third score that would ensure victory, but the score remained at two tries each with the conversions separating the sides as time ran out on what had been an absorbing contest.
St Paul’s will be at home in the 4th Round against Wimbledon College, victors over Epsom College earlier in the week, who had in turn comfortably beaten St Paul’s earlier in the term. It is, however, one of the fascinating aspects of U15 Schools Rugby that early season form can later be reversed. KCS will be especially disappointed to have missed the opportunity to reverse an earlier block fixture loss against their local Wimbledon rivals in the next round, but will be able to test themselves against the still unbeaten Trinity School in the final game of the term.
Full-time: St Paul’s School 14-10 KCS Wimbledon
By Peter Crawshaw
St Paul’s School, Barnes: S Monro Davis, H Drewit Jones, R Wight, A Apkarian, V Mikheev, I Throsby, D Fitzpatrick, C Nelson, M Willis, A Pama, T Street, J Stephenson, H Hunt, G Treneman, Z Newsholme
Kings College School, Wimbledon: Alex Yuan, Sonny Dillhon, George Beal, Johnny Arden, Seth Eley, Nicholas Zissis, Mattie Dodd, Nathan Horne, Mattie Wall, Xavier Cooke, Raaid Akhtar, Harry Stokes, Hugo Plat, William Kobberstad, Alex Gillet
Replacements: Julian Markus, Archie Wilcox, Max Edwards-Warrener