School 7s: Hampton triumph at home against familiar opposition in the final

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Coach Logic

Hampton won their won Hampton School Founders’ Day 7s with a superb display against Cranleigh in the final on Wednesday afternoon.


The two sides have seemingly been joined at the hip at this tournament for the last five years, this was Hampton’s fifth final in six years, for Cranleigh, who were defending champions, a fifth in a row.


They had met in the final in 2016, 2017, and 2019 in recent times, the gap only being broken by Brighton College’s triumph in 2018 where Hampton ended up with the Plate. They had also met in 2011, which meant that heading into Wednesday’s final the sides where tied at two each in Hampton School Founders’ Day 7s finals against each other, Hampton winning back to back in 2016 and 2017 and Cranleigh winning in 2011 and 2019.


Ahead of the tournament Cranleigh were perhaps the favourites, and they certainly looked the part on Wednesday, however Hampton were looking superb as well.


When it came to the final, possession looked as though it would be key. Cranleigh’s superior size meant it would be vital for the hosts to hold onto the ball and, with the outstanding Jamie Benson pulling the strings, they did just that. Over the course of the final they barely gave the defending champions a sniff as they scored early and then kept their hands on the ball for a 31-12 victory.


It was a brilliantly executed set of tactics from Hampton, and it leaves some mouthwatering potential for a bit of rivalry between the two over the rest of the 7s season, not least at the Surrey 7s in a couple of weeks time.


Hampton’s day had started with a tight win over a determined St Benedict’s side before a good victory over Hurstpierpoint College and a 22-12 victory over the 2018 champions, Brighton College.


That set up an effective play off for a place in the Cup final against the reigning Plate champions, St John’s Leatherhead. St John’s had been on fire, first beating Brighton College before then putting over forty past both Hurstpierpoint College and St Benedict’s.


The winner of the Hampton/St John’s head to head would head to the Cup final, with the loser heading to the Plate final, which had been won by these two sides in the last two years. It turned out to be Hampton’s best performance of the group stage as they defeated St John’s 24-5 to reach that fifth Cup final in six years, leaving this superb St John’s side to defend their Plate title.


Over in the other group, which was being played on Hampton’s 3G surface as a result of the recent weather that has seen so many tournaments called off, a similar story was emerging.


Cranleigh had cruised to the final game of the group in relative comfort, England U18 star Oscar Beard among those in scintillating form. An opening victory over Campion was followed by victory over John Fisher and then a stunning fifty pointer over RGS High Wycombe.


That all set up an effective play off against AASE side St Paul’s Catholic College, who had been excellent, only conceding five points in their opening three games, beating RGS High Wycombe 22-5 before beating John Fisher and Campion to nil.


The two therefore went head to head in the final game at the same time as Hampton and St John’s did in the other group, Cranleigh aiming for that fifth Cup final in a row and back to back titles, St Paul’s hoping for a first Cup final having finished as runners up in the Plate twice, in 2017 and 2018.


As it was, a thrilling game of 7s broke out and it was Cranleigh’s superior attacking prowess that won out as they sealed a 38-21 victory to send them through to meet their old rivals Hampton once more, St Paul’s consigned to the Plate once again to meet reigning champions St John’s.


In the St John’s did the deed again in the Plate final to make it back to back success, a 32-7 victory over St Paul’s Catholic College. In truth it was utterly deserved, all day they had looked like the biggest threat to either Hampton or Cranleigh in terms of the Cup and deservedly went home with silverware for their efforts.


Ultimately though the big story was always going to be the Cup final, this repeat of three of the last four, between two sides that seem sure to be right at the heart of competition across the remaining 7s tournaments this term.


Hampton were simply excellent, relentless in their pursuit of possession and then miserly in their ability to prevent Cranleigh from getting it back. Their work off the ball to give each ball carrier an ‘out’ pass was non-stop. In the end 31-12 was a deserved result for the sheer excellence of their performance. Cranleigh will be back for more though, of that there is no doubt, this is a seriously talented squad who, along with Hampton, ought to challenge at ever tournament they enter this year.


Hampton School Founders’ Day 7s Results:


Cup Final

Hampton 31-12 Cranleigh


Plate Final

St John’s, Leatherhead 32-7 St Paul’s Catholic College


Final Group Standings


Pos Group 1 Group 2
1 Hampton Cranleigh
2 St John’s, Leatherhead St Paul’s Catholic College
3 Hurstpierpoint College John Fisher
4 Brighton College RGS High Wycombe
5 St Benedict’s Campion
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