Dec 11, 2018

Weekend Preview: Saturday 1st December

The season is really drawing to a close now, with most sides now having just two games remaining ahead of the Christmas holidays.

It has been a wonderful term so far, across the board it has felt as though the competition level has been incredibly close and, as we head into this penultimate weekend of the season, it looks as though it is going to continue to be.

There is some huge game this weekend as sides look to maintain unbeaten runs, or gain a bit of pride at the end of what has been a tough season. A number of sides go out this weekend determined to prove a point too, and that should make for yet another brilliant weekend.

 

Focus On

Barnard Castle v Durham

This game pits two very even sides together, both have had really strong seasons and have almost identical records. Barnard Castle has only lost to three of three strongest sides in the region, St Peter’s, RGS Newcastle, and Woodhouse Grove. So too Durham, who have also lost to the Daily Mail Trophy champions, Sedbergh, whom Barnard Castle have not played. So a close and exciting game is predicted. Durham perhaps has the edge, against common opponents they have fared slightly better, but the margins are undoubtedly close.

Prediction: Durham

 

Brighton College v Hampton

Another cracker of a game between two sides that have been incredibly even all season. Hampton arrives on a real high after that thrilling final play win over Cranleigh and their leavers XVs County Cup triumph in midweek, while Brighton was victorious at John Fisher last week. Perhaps Brighton just have the edge, they have a real sense of momentum having gone unbeaten since half term and they did beat Hampton in the group stages of the St Joseph’s Festival, though it is such an intense and different environment that drawing conclusions from that game is of little value. What is certain is that we have two sides that will play some exciting rugby and almost guarantee us a cracking game of rugby, it should be brilliant.

Prediction: Brighton College

 

Cheltenham College v Sherborne

Yet another game that just looks incredibly even. Cheltenham has won five and lost four, Sherborne won five and lost five. Against their common opponents Cheltenham has fared slightly better, but really only slightly – we are talking about a handful of points. All of which points to a game on Saturday that really is in the balance. It is also a key game for both in terms of how they will be feeling heading into the closing games of the season. For Cheltenham, this is their final home game of the year, and that might just make the difference.

Prediction: Cheltenham College

 

Clifton College v Bromsgrove

Two excellent sides that probably have not quite received the credit that they deserve so far this season. Defeats have only come to some of the very best teams around, Warwick, Rugby, and Millfield for Bromsgrove, Millfield for Clifton too, narrowly, as well as Marlborough College. So these are two sides of outstanding quality, playing in tough regions of the country too. It sets up for a fantastic game on Saturday, Clifton’s final home game of the season before a trip to Rugby so they will be pumped. Meanwhile, for Bromsgrove it is a final game before they host Warwick next week, their third meeting of the season, having lost the first two, Bromsgrove will want to carry through as much momentum as possible.

Prediction: Clifton College

 

Cranleigh v Marlborough College

A really interesting game this, both sides will be really eager for this one having both suffered rare defeats last week – only the third of the season for both. Marlborough is in a little tricky spell having been so consistent for so long, only to lose their last two in a row. Cranleigh too was on a real run, unbeaten since September they went down last week in heartbreaking fashion to a try in the last play by Hampton in a truly outstanding game of schools rugby. A loose game is sure to be expected, and Marlborough will be giving everything to avoid three defeats on the bounce, but in their final home game of the season, Cranleigh will be equally motivated. It should be excellent.

Prediction: Cranleigh

 

Epsom College v Hurstpierpoint College

This game is oh so interesting! The two met just a week ago in the Champions Trophy semi final at Hurstpierpoint. Epsom won it that day, 22-13, but it was an odd game. Epsom was in control in the first half but ill-discipline and a strong Hurstpierpoint performance saw the home side come charging back in the second half. The question is, did Epsom just let things slip, or had Hurstpierpoint worked away around them – if so, the danger lies ahead for Epsom as the visitors will be already highly motivated to prove that it could have been them in Wednesday’s final against Wellington. There is the other danger for Epsom, will the have half an eye on Wednesday? Interestingly, neither side has actually played since that semi final, so for over a week, they will have been stewing on that game. This could be absolutely fascinating!

Prediction: Epsom College

 

Radley College v Berkhamsted

These two have both enjoyed fine seasons and are chasing top ten finishes in the Daily Mail Trophy, with Berkhamsted currently in 9th and Radley in 11th. They are really well matched this season, Berkhamsted losing just four games and Radley only three. The difference, perhaps is that Berkhamsted’s defeat has been to sides that are without a doubt among the very best in the country, Wellington, Harrow, Sedbergh, and Felsted. We can expect a cracking game on Saturday, especially on Radley’s superb Bigside pitch. With both on three game winning streaks, too, they ought to be playing with plenty of confidence.

Prediction: Berkhamsted

 

Seaford College v St John’s, Leatherhead 

These two both enjoyed cracking victories last weekend, each scoring over forty points against Wimbledon rivals Wimbledon College and KCS Wimbledon respectively. They look well matched heading into Saturday’s encounter, both have had strong seasons, only seeing defeat to some of the very best teams in the country. Saturday will be a big one for both, they probably view each other as fairly big rivals in terms of their position in the rugby hierarchy this year and a victory at the weekend would be a real boost on that front. What is most special though is that both play with a huge amount of spirit and teamwork, and that will surely be in evidence on Saturday in what is certain to be a game in which neither is able to race away as they did last time out.

Prediction: Seaford College

 

St Paul’s v Dulwich College

St Paul’s played some wonderful stuff through most of September and October but has just had a bit of a rough ride through November. After beating Radley on the 3rd they have lost 3 and drawn one of their following four games. Dulwich on Saturday is not going to make it easy to end that run. The men in blue have been outstanding this season without ever quite getting the credit they deserve. Wellington, Hampton, and Whitgift are the only sides to beat them and all of them were close, Hampton and Whitgift heartbreakingly so. They are probably three tries away from talking about an unbeaten season – so fine are the margins. They will be keen to finish with a flourish and with two big away trips to sign off on, they will want to start that process in style on Saturday.

Prediction: Dulwich College

 

Tonbridge v Eton College

A good classic fixture this as the season starts to draw to a close. A slow start to the season for Tonbridge sparked into life a few weeks ago with an emotional victory over Harrow, it was part of a four game run that only ended on Saturday’s tough trip to Dulwich. With Eton on Saturday being their last game of the season, you can be sure that emotion and determination will be in high order once again, and this group have shown that when those ingredients mix they are a tough side to stop. Eton will not make it easy though, at times this season they have been outstanding, and overall they have the better record of the two. It should be an excellent game.

Prediction: Tonbridge

 

Around the Grounds

Caterham has been having an absolutely fantastic season and will want to make sure that it carries on through right to the end. That will require a strong performance on Saturday as they host Eastbourne College.

Downside has also been excellent, albeit with a rougher ride of things since half term. They will be really keen for a big performance on Saturday when they host Canford, the chance of a big scalp being a huge prize. Canford will give no quarter though, it has been a tough season and they will want to try to turn things around before it finishes up.

Campion v Langley in Cambridge should be a cracking game too as these two sides that have performed so excellently over the last few years meet in the middle for a contest that is sure to be well supported.

Meanwhile in Hertfordshire Haileybury will be looking to create an ending to the season that is full of positives after a bit of an up and down year as they host a Bishop’s Stortford College side that has had plenty of highs this year.

In North West London there is a game that down the years has been one of the biggest around, Harrow v Bedford. It should be a good one again, though Harrow will feel they are the strong favourites after a bit of a fallow year for Bedford. These are two proud sides though, so expect a superb contest either way.

Moving North there are a couple of cracking games not least a trip to QEGS Wakefield for RGS Newcastle. RGS might be the St Joseph’s Festival champions, and QEGS might be having a bit of a tough year, but games between these two giants are rarely as simple as the headlines. Along the road in Leeds, Grammar School at Leeds host St Peter’s York in what ought to be a good contest.

Meanwhile, in Rutland, there is a pair of good games as Uppingham host Stowe, and having been knocked out of the Cup by back to back champions Warwick, Uppingham will be keen for a quick response. Local rivals Oakham, meanwhile host SolihullOundle, meanwhile are in action against Rugby, who are in really strong contention for a top 3 finish in the Daily Mail Trophy but must win their remaining games.

Back in the South East, there is a big derby in Ipswich as Ipswich School travel to St Joseph’s College, while in Ealing St Benedict’s will host John Fisher. 

There is a massive game in Wales too as Millfield hop across the border to take on Monmouth. It is a key game for the visitors as they look to maintain momentum ahead of Wednesday’s massive trip up to the champions, Sedbergh.

There is also a small round-robin tournament happening at King’s Bruton as they welcome Mount Kelly, Milton Abbey, and Tavistock RFC for what should be a great few hours of rugby on Saturday.

 

Friday 

There are a couple of cracking games under the lights on Friday evening not least RGS High Wycombe’s trip to Abingdon, a game that both will surely be targeting and that should provide an excellent evening’s entertainment. As should Wisbech Grammar hosting Robert Clack an hour later, Robert Clack faces a tough task though, Wisbech is on a 7 game winning streak. The game is being played in aid of Movember, with each of the Wisbech Grammar 1st XV growing, or attempting (!), moustaches.

Friday also sees another big game in East Anglia as Wymondham College travel to Woodbridge from a 5.15pm kick-off, another game that should provide plenty of entertainment.

 

Schools Rugby Weekend Fixtures – Saturday 1st December (predictions in bold):

Focus On

Barnard Castle v Durham

Brighton College v Hampton

Cheltenham College v Sherborne

Clifton College v Bromsgrove

Cranleigh v Marlborough College

Epsom College v Hurstpierpoint College

Radley College v Berkhamsted

Seaford College v St John’s, Leatherhead

St Paul’s v Dulwich College

Tonbridge v Eton College

 

Saturday

Abraham Darby v Wrekin College

Ampleforth College v Pocklington

Bablake v Warwick 2nd XV

Bedford Modern v Richard Hale

Blundell’s v Taunton

Bryanston v Dauntsey’s

Campion v Langley (Cambridge)

Caterham v Eastbourne College

Cheadle Hulme v Lancaster RGS

Chislehurst & Sidcup GS v Coopers Coborn

Churcher’s College v Christ’s Hospital

Christ College v Kirkham GS 2nd XV

City of London Freemen’s v Worth

Clifton HS v Rendcomb College

Colfe’s v Reigate GS

The Crypt v Sir Thomas Rich’s

Culford v Wymondham College

Dean Close v Prior Park College

Dollar Academy v Glenalmond College

Downside v Canford

Duke of York’s RMS v Sutton Valence

Eltham College v Skinners’

Exeter v Clayesmore

Fettes College v George Heriot’s

Glasgow Academy v Edinburgh Academy

Grammar School at Leeds v St Peter’s, York

Haberdashers’ v UCS

Haileybury v Bishops Stortford College

Harrow v Bedford

Hereford Cathedral v King Henry VIII, Coventry

Judd v Trinity

Kelvinside Academy v Marr College

KES Stratford v Wellingborough

King’s Bruton v Mount Kelly v Tavistock RFC v Milton Abbey

King’s Canterbury v Sevenoaks

King’s College, Taunton v Truro

King’s Worcester v Old Swinford Hospital

Langley Park v Ravens Wood

Latymer Upper v Cobham International

Leicester GS v Ratcliffe College

Loughborough GS v Stamford

Merchant Taylors’ v Reed’s

Monmouth v Millfield

Morrison’s Academy v North Berwick HS

Norwich v Framlingham College

Nottingham HS v KES Birmingham

Oakham v Solihull

The Oratory v Bloxham

Oswestry v Liverpool College

Pangbourne College v Magdalen College

Pate’s GS v Bristol GS

The Perse v The Leys

Plymouth College v Llandovery College

Portsmouth GS U17s v KES Southampton

Princethorpe College v KES Camp Hill

QEGS Wakefield v RGS Newcastle

QEH v Kingswood

Reading Blue Coat v Tiffin

RGS Guildford v KCS Wimbledon

Robert Gordon’s College v Strathallan

Rossall v St Mary’s, Crosby

Royal Hospital School v Woodbridge

Rugby v Oundle

Shiplake College v Emanuel

Silcoates v Birkdale

Stockport GS v Altrincham GS

St Albans v Felsted

St Ambrose College v Crossley Heath

St Anselm’s College v Ellesmere College

St Benedict’s v John Fisher

St Columba’s College v New Hall

St Dunstan’s College v Kent College

St Edward’s, Oxford v Malvern College

St George’s College, Weybridge v Lord Wandsworth College

St Joseph’s College v Ipswich

St Olave’s GS v Dartford GS

St Peter’s, Gloucester v RGS Worcester

Uppingham v Stowe

Wallington CGS v Wimbledon College

Warminster v Wycliffe College

Watford GS v Mill Hill

Wellington School v KES Bath

Wells Cathedral v Monkton Combe

Wilmslow HS v Manchester GS

Worksop College v Mount St Mary’s

Yarm v Ashville College

 

Friday 

Abingdon v RGS High Wycombe (6.30pm)

Wisbech GS v Robert Clack (7.30pm)

WoodbridgWymondham College (5.15pm)

Article by: http://www.fifteenrugby.com

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