This week sees the U18 School Plate semi-finals and the remaining U15 School Plate semi-final take place.
The sides are all playing for places at the Schools Plate finals at Worcester Warriors’ Sixways Stadium on Tuesday 19th March, where they will join Hymers College, who reached the U15 Plate final on Monday with a 22-19 victory at home to Bedford.
The sides will be joined on the 19th by the Bowl semi-finalists, with the Cup and Vase finals all taking place the following day at Twickenham, both of those competitions also have their semifinals this weekend at Allianz Park, sources of some frustration for a few in the Plate given its status as being a tier above the Vase.
U18 Schools Plate Semi-Finals:
Old Swinford Hospital v Bloxham – Wednesday, 2.30pm
Sherborne v Christ’s Hospital – Thursday, 2.30pm
Old Swinford Hospital (Midlands B)
Quarter Final: 25-8 at Hymers College
Last 16: 15-10 v Trent College
Round 2: 13-8 at Sandbach
Round 1: 15-12 at RGS Worcester
Cup Round 1: Lost 53-0 at Warwick
Bloxham (Midlands A)
Quarter Final: 39-3 at Cheadle Hulme
Last 16: 43-7 at Langley
Round 2: 27-3 at Oundle
Round 1: Bye
Cup Round 1: Lost 23-19 at Rugby
Sherborne (South West A)
Quarter Final: 25-15 v Skinners’
Last 16: 29-14 at Exeter
Round 2: 50-0 at KES Southampton
Round 1: Bye
Cup Round 1: Lost 25-7 v at Bishop Wordsworth’s
Christ’s Hospital (London & South East B)
Quarter Final: 43-12 at Abingdon
Last 16: 56-10 v London Oratory
Round 2: 62-12 v George Abbot
Round 1: 62-17 at Sussex Downs
Cup Round 1: Lost 66-17 v Seaford College
The U18 action kicks off on Wednesday with Old Swinford Hospital hosting Bloxham. Bloxham are probably the favourites for this competition, they have been outstanding this season and have some truly superb players, including the exceptional hooker, Alfie Barbeary. Only the misfortune of being drawn away to one of the top teams in the country in the opening round of the Cup, Rugby School, saw them drop to the Plate, and even then it was only a 23-19 defeat.
Since then they have been sensational, in three rounds of Plate rugby they have conceded just 13 points, which includes just a solitary try. They first beat Oundle 27-3, then against Langley, the reigning Vase champions no less, they won 43-7, and in the quarter-final, they beat Cheadle Hulme 39-3.
So the task facing Old Swinford Hospital is a big one, yet they have been staring down big challenges all tournament and emerging victorious. They were given a horrendous Cup draw in the opening round, away to back to back champions Warwick, which saw them into the Plate. Since then they have been tested in every round but emerged victorious and stronger, winning 15-2 at RGS Worcester in the opener, 13-8 at Sandbach in Round 2, and 15-10 against Trent College, in their only home game up until this point, in the Last 16. It showed the strength of the Midlands sections that when it came to their quarter-final against a side from a different region, Hymers College, they had their most dominant performance, a 25-8 victory.
The other semi-final takes place on Thursday afternoon as Sherborne host Christ’s Hospital. Like the other three semi-finalists, Sherborne’s Cup draw was a tough one, away at 2017 Cup finalists Bishop Wordsworth’s, where they lost 25-7 to end them into the Plate.
The Plate has seen them perform well though, a thumping win at KES Southampton to begin before this side that has produced so many star players down the years travelled to Exeter School for a 29-14 Last 16 victory. Their quarter-final draw was a home game to Skinners’, where they again performed well for a 25-15 victory.
Sherborne faces a Christ’s Hospital side though that have been absolutely raining tries in the Plate. They were soundly beaten by Seaford College in the Cup opener, but since the start of the Plate, they have been sensational. The opening two rounds saw them cross the sixty point margin in each game, away at Sussex Downs and home to George Abbot. They were marginally curtailed in the Last 16, held to ‘just’ 56 by London Oratory before beating Abingdon 43-12 away from home in the quarter-final.
The challenges then for Old Swinford Hospital and Sherborne look steep, yet in knockout rugby, it is never so simple as that. These are the biggest games that any of these players will have played in before, with the prize of a final at Sixways Stadium awaiting. We ought to be in for two outstanding contests.
U15 Schools Plate Semi-Finals
Hymers College 22-19 Bedford
King’s College, Taunton v Trinity – Wednesday
Hymers College (North B)
Semi Final: 22-19 v Bedford
Quarter Final: 31-10 v Princethorpe College
Last 16 22-7 v Woodhouse Grove
Round 3: 17-10 at RGS Newcastle
Round 2: 46-5 v Queen Ethelburga’s
Round 1: Bye
Cup Round 1: Lost 29-24 v Pocklington
King’s College, Taunton (South West A)
Quarter Final: 22-10 v Dean Close
Last 16: 24-12 v Monmouth
Round 3: 39-22 at Torquay Grammar
Round 2: w/o v Crispin
Round 1: Bye
Cup Round 1: Lost 36-29 at Taunton
Trinity (London & South East B)
Quarter Final: 7-5 v St Paul’s
Last 16: 31-19 at Bishop’s Stortford High School
Round 3: 40-14 at Wimbledon College
Round 2: 41-5 at Ravens Wood
Round 1: Bye
Cup Round 1: Lost 32-17 v John Fisher
Hymers College sealed their place at Sixways Stadium for the U15 Schools Plate final with a tight 22-19 victory at home to Bedford, capping a run that has seen them get past some of the biggest names in schools rugby, including Woodhouse Grove and RGS Newcastle to go alongside Bedford. It is little wonder they have gone so far, they only narrowly ended up in the Plate, losing by just five points to a good Pocklington side in the Cup opening round.
They will face either King’s College, Taunton or Trinity in the final at Sixways on the 19th March. King’s College will be hosting that semi-final against Trinity on Wednesday. Like Hymers, King’s College only just missed out on the second round of the Cup, losing at their rivals, Taunton School 36-29. They did not have to fire a shot in the opening two rounds of the Plate, having a first-round bye and then a walkover against Crispin in Round 2.
After that, though they were called into action against some top-class opposition. They won a thriller in Round 3 at Torquay Boys Grammar, winning 39-22 to set up a last 16 tie at home to Monmouth, which they won 24-12. That put them into the quarter-finals where they were drawn against Dean Close, a side whose U18s have three players in the England squad. Once again though King’s College, Taunton showed their quality to win 22-10.
For Trinity life was a bit smoother through the Plate until the reached a brute of a quarter-final against St Paul’s. Like King’s College, their Cup exit came at the hands of a big local rival, John Fisher in Trinity’s case, losing 32-17. An opening round bye followed before three impressive wins in a row to see them emerge as the London & South East B champions, 41-5 at Ravens Wood, 40-14 at Wimbledon College, and 31-19 at Bishop’s Stortford High School.
The quarter-final was their first home game of the tournament but it was an almighty slugfest against St Paul’s, neither side really able to get much of a foothold in the game, with just a single conversion separating them in a low scoring game ultimately, ending 7-5 in Trinity’s favour.
It all makes for an intriguing game on Wednesday afternoon, one that Hymers College will be keeping a close eye on as they prepare for a big afternoon at Sixways Stadium in a fortnight’s time.
Article by: http://www.fifteenrugby.com