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Home > News > Hampton and John Cleveland College to meet in Daily Mail U18 Vase Final
Your News Hampton and John Cleveland College to meet in Daily Mail U18 Vase Final

HAMPTON School and John Cleveland College booked trips to Twickenham after they recorded contrasting victories in today's Daily Mail RBS Schools Under-18 Vase semi-finals at Broadstreet RFC near Coventry.

Hampton used their three-quarters to devastating effect to trounce King Edward VI School, Stratford 52-19 in a fast furious opener.

JCC from Hinckley relied on a tight forward-dominated game in the second half to end a spirited challenge from first-time semi-finalists Giggleswick School from Yorkshire which sealed a 33-15 win.

Both Hampton and JCC were behind at least once in the first half but they rallied strongly and will now meet in the Daily Mail RBS Schools Finals Day at Twickenham on April 1 (2pm kick-off).

Hampton's win should help to raise the profile of rugby in a school where other sports have tended to dominate. Though former England sevens international Simon Amor is a product of the school, Hampton is better known for its rowing and football teams. Zafar Ansari, who played fly-half today, has already played international Under-17 cricket for England.

"We are a three sport school across two terms - rowing, rugby and football - so in effect it goes from a 1,100 boys schools into a 300-400 size school so our resources are spread really thinly across three sports," said Zoran Higgins, Hampton's coach.

"Rugby seems like the third sport in the school. We have had rowing internationals, our football team are the defending Independent Schools Football Association champions.

"So I've made it my job to get a rugby culture, I've worked my cotton socks along off with the boys at doing that and this win will help raise our profile."

Hampton were twice behind in the first 14 minutes after KES's lively centres Charlie Speechley and Freddie Gravestock scored tries, the second of them improved by full-back Adam Ward.

But Hampton were always dangerous on the attack and they had the edge in the set pieces where they unpicked KES's usually-reliable line-out.

Superb support play from Hampton also gave KES little margin for error and missed or half-tackles were severely punished.

Left wing Jack Palmer and centre John-Henry Smith scored the early tries and centre Brook Driver landed the conversion that levelled the scores.

Hampton moved into a 26-12 half-time lead with Driver and open side flanker Callum Burke crossing for further tries, both of which Driver improved.

The loss of Ward with a knock to the head did not help KES and it became something of a procession in the second half as Hampton ran in further tries through right wing Dan Gyandoh, Smith, Driver and replacement number eight Max Ward, two of them converted by Driver and one by full-back Joe Grindle.

KES scored a well-worked try from number eight Rob Young which fly-half Jack Nesbitt improved but coach Roger Jenkins had no complaints about the result.

"They had the edge on us," he said. "I was disappointed and I felt that a few boys were side-tracked by the whole occasion.

"We made an awful lot of errors that we don't normally make. We missed tackles but the whole thing starts with a contest on the ball and normally we are pretty good at that.

"But we weren't today, our defence was always on the back foot and Hampton ran some good lines."

John Cleveland College had to overcome the absence of winger Manu Tuilagi and prop Ryan Bower ahead of their semi-final.

Dave Heybrock, JCC's master-in-charge of rugby, thought he had secured the release of the pair, both of whom played for the Leicester Tigers Academy against Leeds Carnegie yesterday.

In the event neither was released for school duty which forced JCC to reshuffle their squad though they hope that Tuilagi, the youngest of five brothers who have played for Leicester, and Bower will be available to face Hampton in the final.

"In the conversations I have had I have been assured that they will be available for the final," Heybrock said.

Around half of the JCC side already have experience of a Twickenham final having played in the Under-15 Vase final defeat by Langley Park Boys School three years ago.

"Some of them were there three years ago but for the others it will be a first time and the experience of a lifetime so it will be a big day for them," Heybrock said.

Though JCC eased into an 8-0 lead with an early penalty from Midlands Under-18 centre Joe Glover and a try from skipper and centre Stephen List, which Glover improved, Giggleswick hit back strongly.

Powerful centre George Elliott, who plays rugby union for Leeds Carnegie and rugby league for Leeds Rhinos, scored two superb tries in a four minutes period, the second after full-back and captain Chris Gemmell hit the line at pace.

Though Giggleswick were outmuscled by a bigger JCC pack they continued to spread the ball wide and tried to stretch the Leicestershire school's defence.

But Glover reduced the deficit to a point with a penalty late in the first half and JCC played a tighter game in the second half based around their pack and skilful fly-half Ryan Oakes.

It was Glover who scored the try that regained the lead for JCC when he collected a deft inside pass from Oakes and ghosted over.

Oakes was then driven over from close range and Glover again converted.

Gemmell, who captained Giggleswick in the absence of his injured brother Mark, pulled back three points with a penalty but Glover responded in kind and JCC still had time for number eight Matt Nurse to drive over after Gigglewswick were shunted backwards at a scrum.

Defeat was particularly hard on Dave Muckalt, Giggleswick's director of sport, who was in charge of Manchester GS when they were beaten by Campion School in the 2002 Daily Mail Schools Under-18 Cup semi-final.

"It's the second time I have lost a semi-final and it's not nice," Muckalt said.

"We created four very good chances in the first half and only finished two. We knew that the first ten minutes of the second half were going to be key for us.

"Unfortunately it was obvious that they were just a little bit more up for it. We conceded a couple of big scores in that first ten minutes.

"There was a bit of immaturity, we had a lot of Lower Sixth boys in the side and hopefully we will learn from that next year.

"But we have had a fantastic cup run, we are a very small school and I am proud as punch of the team. It's just unfortunate for the Upper Sixth lads that they won't get to finish their school career at Twickenham."

With around two-thirds of the semi-final side available to Muckalt next year Giggleswick, who were cheered on by three coach loads of noisy supporters, could be a force to be reckoned with next season.

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