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Home > News > Ravens Wood and The Leys reach Twickenham
Your News Ravens Wood and The Leys reach Twickenham

WINGMAN Seb Howarth grabbed a hat-trick of tries as a Will Hooley-inspired Leys School cruised into the U18 Daily Mail Vase Final with a comprehensive 40-3 victory over Wirral Grammar School in the Semi-final at Broad Street RFC, Coventry.

The Cambridge School were last at Twickenham in 2009 when they beat Macclesfield to win the Under 15 Vase and now they will face Ravens Wood School from Bromley in the final at Twickenham on April 4.

The Leys were dominant from the first whistle and both Howarth and England U19 international Hooley made early threatening breaks before fullback Jack Thomson opened their account on nine minutes when he finished off Will McGaheys break in the corner, with Hooley adding the conversion.

Wirral struck back with a straightforward Ben Brooks penalty to reduce the deficit to four points five minutes later, but that was as good as it got for the Merseysiders as The Leys ran riot.

Winger Howarth registered his first of the day in the 17th minute as Leys built a number of phases in Wirral territory before spinning the ball wide, with Hooley kicking another superb set of extras from the touchline.

With half time approaching, Howarth bagged his second as he ran back a Brooks clearance kick with interest and scythed through the onrushing defence to touch down next to the posts, granting Hooley a further two points on a plate.

Playing with the stiff breeze after the interval, Wirral almost clawed three points back four minutes into the half only for Brooks 41-metre penalty to drift just wide.

And the electric Howarth all but sealed victory for the Cambridgeshire side when he completed his treble seconds later after latching onto a wayward Wirral pass from a scrum to race home from halfway.

With their opponents shell-shocked, The Leys went for the jugular and when scrum half Toby Stockley burrowed over from close range for a converted try and a 33-3 score line with more than 25 minutes still to play, the match appeared set for a cricket score.

To their immense credit, however, Wirral did not buckle completely and increased their intensity in the breakdown to disrupt The Leys previously free supply of possession and restricted their opponents to only one further try.

That score came five minutes from time as Hooley stormed away from deep after a turnover, before feeding the ball inside to replacement Alex Shea-Simmonds to finish underneath the posts for another seven points.

Reading Blue Coat School 15-20 Ravens Wood School

Ravens Wood School avenged their defeat at the semi-final stage of the U18 Daily Mail Vase last season by edging out Reading Blue Coat School in a 20-15 nail-biter to advance on Twickenham and a place in the showpiece against The Leys.

Ravens Wood took the lead on five minutes when flanker James Chatten bustled through a number of attempted to tackles to touch down underneath the posts, leaving Tom Coombs with a simple conversion.

Coombs extended the Kent sides advantage 10 minutes later when he slotted a fine penalty from 40 metres against the wind, which Readings multi-talented number eight Patrick Castleden cancelled out with his own three points having missed an earlier shot at goal.

The Berkshire school reduced the deficit to only two points when winger Sam Jones squeezed into the corner for a try shortly before half time after a number of phases inside the Ravens Wood 22, although Castleden failed to draw his side level as his conversion dropped short.

Six minutes after the restart, however, Ravens Wood re-established their lead as centre Ian Gauld caught the ball at pace out wide before weaving inside and finishing superbly having left several defenders trailing in his wake, with Coombs adding an equally stunning conversion.

Coombs stroked over another long-range penalty on 45 minutes as Wood threatened to streak away, and although a Castleden penalty cannoned back off the uprights five minutes later, imposing centre Ed Kaye soon hauled Reading back into contention when he crashed over in the corner for a converted try after they had moved the ball wide from a free kick.

Coombs could have taken Ravens Wood back out of Readings reach with a third penalty 12 minutes from time, but the fly half uncharacteristically hooked his effort wide.

Reading sought to make full use of their lifeline and strung together some ominous attacks in the closing stages of the match, but their opponents were determined not to suffer the heartbreak that they had against St. Georges College, Weybridge in 2011 and held on for a memorable victory.

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