Northampton School for Boys put in a clinical performance against Rugby School at Allianz Park to reach the U15 Schools Cup finals with a 21-0 victory.
The Midlands school are used to going deep in these national competitions, only a year ago their U18 side reached this same stage. However, the U15s went one better to secure their place at Twickenham Stadium on Thursday 21st March, where they will face Wellington College, who came through in the tightest of games against Whitgift.
With a driving wind at their tails Northampton School for Boys, or NSB as they colloquially know, took the game to the founders of the game Rugby School, who had brought a strong crowd along with them.
Tweets of support had been coming in from all corners for NSB, 2003 World Cup winning hooker Steve Thompson, England wing Jack Nowell, and former England wing Jon Sleightholme and his son, and current England U20 wing, Ollie. For those two though it was a family affair, Ollie’s younger brother Frankie starting at inside-centre for Northampton School for Boys.
It took ten minutes for NSB to get on the scoreboard, Lucas Kitson burrowing over from short range before fly-half George Patten landed the extras. Patten was excellent throughout, controlling the tempo of the game and kicking majestically, both from the tee and from hand, as he managed the blustery conditions superbly.
Nine minutes later NSB doubled their lead as second row William Evans burrowed over. It was the culmination of a really smart piece of play, a left-field scrum that NSB stacked the blindside for before number 8 Edward Baker picked up and went right instead. He got to within inches before Evans pounced to secure the try, with Patten, of course, converting.
A third would follow before the half was up, and this time it was Sleightholme. The powerful centre showed great awareness to swoop behind a ruck on the left-hand side, swiping up the ball and scampering down the left-hand touchline virtually unopposed for a wonderfully opportunistic try.
Patten again converted, and with just a couple of minutes until the half, NSB saw it out and went in 21-0 up.
Rugby had not been without the threat of their own, but playing into the wind was a tough gig. Kicking the ball away was a real challenge and against a defence as organised and robust as NSB’s, their options were hard to come by.
They had hope though, with the wind at their tails in the second half there was always a chance. Inside centre, Kenzie Morgan almost took it upon himself single-handedly to grab the game by the scruff of the neck for his side. He almost had success on a couple of occasions, making huge yardage, but with every Rugby break, came some brilliant NSB scramble defence.
In the end, it became a lesson of conditions management from NSB, scoring in the first half when they had the wind and using the boot to good effect. Then in the second half, when actually Rugby largely dominated the ball, they set themselves up to absorb the pressure, and oh how well they absorbed it.
Wave after wave came but NSB rarely looked panic, indeed they rarely even got so far as to even be flustered. With the ball in hand, they played with real control, understanding that kicking it away was a fruitless exercise given the conditions so option, by and large, to keep it in hand and maintain patience.
All in all, it was a thoroughly professional and mature performance, all the more so given that this was a U15 side. Game management of such standards is not supposed to be within the skill set of many U15 sides, NSB proved that they are without a doubt one of the sides to buck that trend.
For Rugby School it will hurt, they never quite had the opportunity to show why it was that they had got here, though in flashes we saw the brilliance that lurks within what is a top-class side.
For NSB though another final awaits, this brilliant school from Northampton that continues to punch so far above its weight. Can they now topple the 2017 champions Wellington College and claim the title at Twickenham?
Full Time: Rugby School 0-21 Northampton School for Boys
15 Ollie Orme-smith, 14 Dara Falope, 13 George Whitelaw, 12 Kenzie Morgan (VC), 11 Sholto Harris-Stuart, 10 Henry Hess, 9 Fred Thame (c), 1 James Hill, 2 Max Malloy, 3 David Bennett, 4 Ted Prike, 5 Ben Ellis, 6 Dom Ritchie, 7 Lochie Bruneau, 8 Luke Heseltine.
Replacements: 16 Ollie Nilsson, 17 Ben Fossick, 18 Ryan Sweeting, 19 Cecil Scopes, 20 Will Pond, 21 Freddie Fowler, 22 Will Shingles.
Northampton School for Boys
15 Oliver James, 14 Joshua Tutt, 13 George Kennedy, 12 Frankie Sleightholme, 11 Louis Castagna, 10 George Patten, 9 William Smears, 1 James Aluko, 2 Isaac Young, 3 Jacob Steel, 4 Tom Donaldson, 5 William Evans, 6 Lucas Kitson, 7 George Diggin, 8 Edward Baker.
Replacements: 16 Sam Arimoro, 17 Josh Khangura, 18 Harry Vesty, 19 Thomas Evans, 20 Taylor Hollobon, 21 Daniel Moon, 22 Tom Davis.
Article by: http://www.fifteenrugby.com