Bumper crowd at rugby festival

THE sun was out for the 20th NCS National Schools Rugby Festival, held at St Joseph's College, Ipswich over the weekend.Millfield were crowned champions, following a superb final against Dulwich.

THE sun was out for the 20th NCS National Schools Rugby Festival, held at St Joseph's College, Ipswich over the weekend.

Millfield were crowned champions, following a superb final against Dulwich.

Dulwich were hard opponents, and victory wasn't secured until the last minute, when Millfield's fly half stepped up for a gut wrenching penalty kick, ensuring that they lifted the De La Selle Cup.

Elsewhere at the prestigious event, KCS Wimbledon fought hard, and played quality rugby to lift the plate, in a tough final against Queen Elizabeth Grammar School.

St Joseph's own squad didn't fare so well, losing all but one of their six matches over the two days. Director of rugby Andy Skipper said: “The guys played passionately, and had some good chances, but failed to rise to the occasion.

“There were some moments when we played truly great rugby, and there were times when we lacked the drive required to win”

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Despite the disappointing result for the host team, St Joseph's must be anything but disappointed with the way the weekend went, with the biggest crowd at the Belstead Road site since the festival began in 1986.

Bev Hudson, head of marketing and publicity at the college, said: “We've put more effort into entertainment for the whole family this year, with trade stands and things to keep children entertained”

She added: “This event may be 20 years old, but it keeps on growing and growing, and the quality of the rugby played is truly incredible.”

RFU chief executive and ex-St Joseph's student Francis Baron presented the cup and plate to the winning sides.

Games involving St Joseph's - Saturday

St Joseph's 3 Filton College 23

St Joseph's had a tough battle on their hands in their first game of the group matches, against last year's champions Filton College.

Filton appeared to be dominant in the scrum, and ten minutes in, with men over, fed the ball out to their full back, who went over for a try between the posts, which was converted by the side's fly half.

On the restart St Joseph's answered back, pushing deep into Filton's territory. Filton gave away a penalty, and St Joseph's No. 10 Searless kicked at goal, putting the scores at half time at 3-7.

In the second half Filton took to the pitch with added vigour, and while pushing forward, their fly half scored a perfect drop goal, removing any hopes of a home victory

St Joseph's 0 Whitchurch 12

A chanting home crowd, backed up by the school samba band, still wasn't enough to lift St Joseph's game and secure a victory, as they took on Welsh Wonders Whitchurch, in their second group match of the day.

With nothing on the scoreboard for either side, both teams came into the second half looking for a win. St Joseph's seemed to have the edge and were dominant in the set pieces, yet still failed to claim any points.

Ten minutes in, and Whitchurch flanker Hearne went down injured. Fearing a neck injury, the ref halted the game for 15 minutes while he received medical attention, before being stretchered off to a waiting ambulance. He was not seriously hurt.

The game was resumed, and St Joseph's seemed to have lost their drive. Unfortunately Whitchurch had found theirs and scored two tries, only one of which was converted.

St Joseph's 5 Brighton 27

IN their final match of the day, St Joseph's battled Brighton for third place in group 1.

St Jo's took the kick-off, but almost immediately Brighton pushed into St Joseph's 22, and after a few attempts, Manyeka went over to put Brighton in the lead. Things went from bad to worse.

At 15 minutes Manyeka went over again, having shook off two tackles, and this time got the conversion. Shortly after, and in what should have been the try of the tournament, Brighton's left wing intercepted the ball deep inside his own 22, running the full length of the pitch to touch down in the far corner.

Sunday

St Joseph's 0 KCS Wimbledon 17

ST Joseph's battled hard, but once again play was concentrated within their own half.

Some good handling, and a dogged determination, earned KCS Wimble-don two converted tries, and their kicker also racked up three points when St Joseph's gave away a penalty.

St Joseph's 3 St Peters 14

IN the second match of the Sunday finals, St Joseph's faced Worcester- based St Peter's, and with five minutes gone, it was the same old story, as St Peter's fly half went over for a try, which he also converted.

Pressure forced St Joseph's into giving away a penalty, and St Peters opted to kick at goal. However, the kick was off target, and at half time the scores stood at 7-0. In the second half, ever-optimistic St Jo's came out fighting, and pushing forward, Benton took an opportunity at a drop goal, putting them back in the game. St Peter's answered back almost immediately with a darting try between the posts.

St Joseph's 7 Perse 0

IN the final match of the festival for St Joseph's, the hosts displayed a spark of brilliance that had been missing. The squad dominated in the scrum, and were near perfect in the line out. It's a miracle, as well as a testament to Perse's defensive tactics, that they only managed to score a single try.

The game's only try came five minutes from time when St Jo's won a line out 10 metres from Perse's try line. Their Hooker Took the ball, and with the support of his fellow players, drove over the line to put a much needed smile on the supporters faces. Fullback Searless capped it off with a conversion, and the hosts ended their bad run with a morale-boosting win.

Rugby Festival Results round-up

Saturday

Group 1: St Joseph's 3 Filton 23, Brighton 5 Whitchurch 13, St Joseph's 0 Whitchurch 12, Brighton 0 Filton 46, St Joseph's 5 Brighton 27, Filton 11 Whitchurch 13

Group 2: Campion 5 Perse 0, Millfield 24 Merchiston 5, Millfield 7 Perse 9, Campion 14 Merchiston 13, Millfield 12 Campion 5, Merchiston 24 Perse 0.

Group 3: St Peter's 27 Saffron Walden 7, Dulwich 13 Bromsgrove 5, Dulwich 31 Saffron Walden 0, St Peter's 5 Bromsgrove 7, Dulwich 15 St Peter's 7, Bromsgrove 24 Saffron Walden 0.

Group 4: RGS Wyc 19 QEGS 7, Ivybridge 12 KCS Wimbledon 13, Ivybridge 5 PEGS 0, RGS Wyc 15, KCS Wimbledon 10, Ivybridge 5 RGS Wyc 0, KCS Wimbledon 6 QEGS 5

Sunday

Plate: Brighton 7 QEGS 12, Merchiston 23 Saffron Walden 0, St Peter's 8 Perse 3, KCS Wimbledon 17 St Joseph's 0, Brighton 32 Saffron Walden 0, St Peter's 14 St Joseph's 3, Merchiston 3 QEGS 12, KCS Wimbledon 24 Perse 0, St Peter's 3 KCS Wimbledon 9, Brighton 12 Merchiston 15, Saffron Walden 0 QEGS 12, St Joseph's 7 Perse 0.

FINAL: QEGS 0 KCS Wimbledon 12

Trophy: Whitchurch 7 Ivybridge 0, Millfield 5 Bromsgrove 3, Dulwich 26 Campion 0, RGS Wyc 3 Filton 3, Whitchurch 3 Bromsgrove 18, Millfield 7 Ivybridge 0, Dulwich 7 Filton 0, RGS Wyc 17 Campion 8, Whitchurch 0 Millfield 7, Bromsgrove 5 Ivybridge 21, Dulwich 3 RGW Wyc 0, Filton 12 Campion 0

FINAL: Millfield 8 Dulwich 6

Player of the tournament: Ryan Manyeka (Brighton)

Try of the tournament: Teddy Baron (Dulwich)

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