St Paul’s Catholic College became just the third side ever to win the AASE League as they beat Beechen Cliff 31-23 in the final at Allianz Park on Wednesday.
The London Irish affiliates were maginicently determined through out, with the powerful work of the likes of Tarek Haffar and Ethan Pawadyira up front particularly potent.
It will be a bitter pill for Beechen Cliff to swallow though, they gave all that they could and yet return home without the silverware again, having lost out to Hartpury College in last year’s final.
It was St Paul’s that had knocked Hartpury out this year, allowing these two to be the challengers in the final, and they had earlier in the season beaten Beechen Cliff too. Confidence and momentum were entirely with them.
It showed, just three minutes in they went a try ahead through brilliant opportunistic work from Michael Dykes after a kick through, with Matthew Barrett converting for 7-0.
Beechen Cliff worked their way back though, the gloriously talented Orlando Bailey landing two penalties before a chargedown try from scrum half Victor Webb put them in front, 13-7 with Bailey’s conversion.
St Paul’s struck back, Pawadyira dropping down off the back of the maul and Barrett converting to go back in front, however it was to be Beechen Cliff that would have the final say in the half as Jasper Spandler crashed over from a maul of their own.
Bailey’s conversion gave them a 20-14 lead at the break and at that point Beechen Cliff must have been thinking that the momentum was with them, and with that a potential chance to reverse last year’s fortunes.
As it was though it was St Paul’s that would seize the opportunity in the second half, and in particular loosehead Tarek Haffar. The bullocking prop absolutely took over the game. First scoring after his side were camped on the line, battering away, then with some dynamic carrying that simply drained the energy and the numbers from the opposition.
His try put them back in front, and then midway through the half they extended it through replacement Ryan Eastley. Outside centre Matthew Barrett was having a perfect day from the tee and continued to do so to stretch the lead out to 28-20 with ten minutes left on the clock.
Beechen Cliff kept knocking though, you would expect nothing less of this superb bunch of players, Bailey landing a penalty with six left to play. However just a minute lake Barrett nailed another kick for St Paul’s to seal the game up at 31-23.
It was a fantastic effort from Beechen Cliff, who could not have given more and should reflect on two finals in two years as a magnificent achievement.
However in the end the plaudits have to fall on this outstanding group of St Paul’s players, becoming just the third AASE Champions after Hartpury College and Exeter College. A truly outstanding achievement.
Full Time: Beechen Cliff 23-31 St Paul’s Catholic College
Elsewhere in the AASE league the other placings were decided on Tuesday, Brooksby Melton College sealing third with a 17-14 victory over Hartpury College at Leicester Forest RFC.
Over at Shaftesbury Park in Bristol, Exeter College sealed fifth with a 33-29 victory over Myerscough College, while back in Leicester Gosforth Academy secured 7th in another thriller, beating Oaklands College 40-31.
At the same venue SGS Filton College sealed 9th by beating Bishop Burton College 45-10, while back at Shaftesbury Park Truro College claimed 11th, beating Moulton College 63-10. Meanwhile in the 13th place play off City of Oxford College avoided last place in their debut season with a superb 44-12 defeat of Stourport High School.
15 Isaac de Buriatte, 14 Ben Laughton, 13 Bradley Law, 12 Jack Wiltshire, 11 William Morris, 10 Orlando Bailey (c), 9 Victor Webb, 1 Archie Stanley, 2 Jasper Spandler, 3 Archie Alexander, 4 Alex Ashton, 5 Mackenzie Graham, 6 John Stewart, 7 Will Raftery, 8 Frankie Read.
Replacements: 16 Jac Therrien, 17 Archie Maggs, 18 Blaize Sumbler, 19 Ben Lemos, 20 Ben Gilbert.
15 Will Field, 14 Michael Dykes, 13 Matthew Barrett, 12 Harry Rabjohn, 11 George Davis, 10 Archie Heard, 9 Rory Morgan (c), 1 Tarek Haffar, 2 George Davis, 3 Ash Chririma, 4 Oscar Jansen, 5 Luke Parr, 6 Freddie Fearnley, 7 Michael Mason, 8 Ethan Pawadyira.
Replacements: 16 Callum Hennessey, 17 Ryan Eastley, 18 Joe Keohane, 19 Sam Harding, 20 Edwin Zaimovic, 21 Jack Walsh, 22 Darragh Walsh.
AASE Finals Results:
Beechen Cliff 23-31 St Paul’s Catholic College
Brooksby Melton College 17-14 Hartpury College – Tuesday, 11am, Leicester Forest RFC
Exeter College 33-29 Myerscough College – Tuesday, 4pm, Shaftesbury Park
Gosforth Academy 40-31 Oaklands College – Tuesday, 3pm, Leicester Forest RFC
Bishop Burton College 10-45 SGS Filton College – Tuesday, 1pm, Leicester Forest RFC
Moulton College 10-63 Truro College – Tuesday, 2pm, Shaftesbury Park
Stourport HS 12-44 City of Oxford College – Tuesday, 12pm, Shaftesbury Park