RFU Schools Cup Semi-Final
Hampton’s U15 rugby team lost 21-10 to Whitgift in a pulsating RFU Schools Cup Semi-Final at Allianz Park. An early try from Tim Lamming, added to by five points from the boot of fly-half Jamie Benson weren’t enough as a powerful Whitgift side scored twice in the closing stages to book their place in the final at Twickenham.
Hampton had the better of the early exchanges, and a short spell of pressure resulted in centre Lamming crashing over the whitewash with six minutes on the clock. Benson converted to give his side a 7-0 lead.
The U15s continued to dominate possession and territory, and a smart box kick from Luke Greenall almost saw Hampton score a second, but Whitgift managed to reach the ball first and clear to touch.
Whitgift’s pick and go strategy was proving successful with huge ball carriers such as hooker Piero Noah and flanker Omari Malcolm providing Hampton’s steady defensive unit with a stern test. Eventually, Malcolm was able to barge his way over the try-line just before the interval, and the conversion left the score-line at 7-7, promising a nail-biting second-half.
Hampton came out firing after the break, and strong ball carries from Tom Tomlin and Rupert Reddish gave their side a strong attacking platform to build off. Back rower Tomlin came within inches of putting his team into a lead, but was denied by a last-ditch tackle from former Hampton pupil, and Whitgift full-back Gon Declercq. The attacking play continued, and Hampton settled for three points courtesy of Jamie Benson’s boot.
Only minutes later Benson would find himself in the action once again, breaking through numerous Whitgift defenders to find himself one-on-one with Declercq, before the Whitgift full-back illegally tackled him.
Following this, Whitgift went straight into the Hampton 22, and their strong forward pack was desperately trying to turn around a three-point deficit with only minutes to play.
Hampton were defending superbly, and held up the Whitgift ball carriers numerous times, repelling attack after attack on their try-line, but eventually Piero Noah managed to bulldoze his way over after a relentless spell of attacking pressure.
The desperation was now Hampton’s, as they trailed by four points, but Whitgift were able to power their way down the field and over the try-line as a shattered Hampton defence saw their stunning national cup run come to an end at the semi-final stage.
Report by Fifth Year Josh Bartholomew
Head Coach, Mr Kothakota praised all the boys’ efforts:
I am so proud of the performance that the team put in against an imposing Whitgift side; they played some fantastic rugby and defended ferociously. While it wasn’t to be on this occasion, I have no doubt that they will learn from this experience and come back even better as senior rugby players. Each member of the squad has made huge progress over their time at the School and it will be exciting to see what they can achieve moving forward.