[T]he Queen Elizabeth Grammar School U15 Rugby team travelled to Pocklington in Yorkshire on Thursday for their quarter final match in the National Vase.
The visitors played the first half with a strong wind at their backs and had the better of both possession and territory throughout the first half. QEGS made several breaks through the strong running of Tom Hill, Harry Miles and Jacob Batey, but it was captain Louie Johnson who had the best chance to score as he broke the home line following a scrum. He touched the ball down, only for the referee to rule that a double movement had occurred, and a penalty was instead awarded to the home side.
Five minutes later the visitors pressed the home side again, and this time Johnson fed Tom Knowles who hit the line at great pace and beat the last defender before scoring to the right of the posts. Johnson’s conversion attempt looked to be sailing wide of the uprights before the wind curved the kick cleanly between the posts and QEGS took the lead 7-0.
The second half began with a series of errors by both teams before the Pocklington pack began to find their way into the match. Their impressive ‘open side’ caused QEGS to have to work very hard to retain the ball, and eventually the pressure told as one of the home forwards crashed over to bring the score to 7-5. The conversion attempt hit the crossbar before falling back onto the pitch side of the posts. Throughout the second half the QEGS side played the conditions well as the relentless wind contained the game largely to one side of the field. The work of James McLeod and Archie Rattray in the QEGS back row was impressive as they defended superbly to limit the impact of the home forwards.
The final ten minutes were largely played in the QEGS 22, and although the Cumbrian side had their chances, it was the home side who pressed for victory in the dying moments of the match. With five minutes to play the home team battered the QEGS line, and were awarded a series of scrums and penalties which kept them on the QEGS try line. Sam Potter and vice-captain Adam Wilson were tireless in their defensive efforts.
The defence of the Penrith side was magnificent in the last two minutes, as time and again players threw themselves into tackles only inches from their own line. The game finished with Tom Hill winning the ball at the ruck and Johnson kicking it dead to end the match, the QEGS squad flooded the pitch as the players celebrated such a narrow win.
The semi-finals will both be played at Allianz Park (home of Saracens RUFC) on Sunday 4th March. QEGS will face either Kenilworth School from Warwickshire, or Richard Hale School from Hertfordshire.
The QEGS coaching staff are delighted with how well the boys have played, and are now preparing for the trip to London for the semi-final. Rob Dawson said “we knew it would be tough at Pocklington and that one score might decide the game, at this stage of the competition we expect hard games. There was almost nothing between the two sides, but we adapted to the conditions well, and when it came down to the last five minutes our physicality at the tackle won us the game, our back five forwards were superb.”