Hampton’s First XV made a great start to the season as they beat Tonbridge 24-15 to progress to the second round of the Champions Trophy. Lower Sixth pupil Josh Bartholomew reports on their victory:
Hampton began the game with energy and intensity, hitting the opposition ball-carriers hard and regularly forcing errors. Despite Hampton’s early dominance, it took until midway through the opening half for the home team to open the scoring. After a powerful carry through the middle from hooker Iestyn Humphrey, Hampton had a clear advantage and Jesper Hartikainen could dive over the line with ease to give his side a 7-0 lead after successful conversion.
Hampton continued their physical game plan and it wasn’t long before they were close to the line again. This time, blindside-flanker Alexander Taylor was able to barrel his way in to score and open up a clear advantage for the home team. Yet Tonbridge were growing into the game admirably, and struck back shortly before half-time with a powerful score of their own. The conversion drifted wide, and Hampton had a 14-5 lead at the interval.
After half-time, a stalemate ensued, Hampton’s power and attrition being countered by a tenacious Tonbridge defence. The opening points of the half came as the travelling team charged down a Benson clearance. Hampton did well to prevent a try after Tonbridge’s outside-centre broke free, but in doing so infringed, and a simple penalty-kick took the score to 14-8.
It looked like the passionate Hampton faithful were in for a tense finale, as they had been the previous year against Dulwich College. But after a spectacular leaping catch from Jesper H, scrum-half Luke Greenall sniped through a gap in the defence from the ruck and sprinted clear for an impressive score. The successful conversion gave Hampton what appeared to be an unassailable 21-8 lead.
Tonbridge bounced back almost immediately, taking advantage of tiring Hampton defenders to score. Another successful conversion and the away team were back within one score. Hampton were keen to avoid a nervy finish and Jesper H leapt above all others again at the kick-off to secure his team possession once more. The home side built their phases before forcing a Tonbridge infringement at the ruck, leaving Jamie B with a simple penalty-kick to take the score to 24-15 and book Hampton a trip to Berkhamsted in the next round.
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