GALLERY: St Joseph’s College defeat Whitgift in NatWest Cup last 16 clash
St Joseph’s director of sport Mark Patterson is relishing another home draw, after the Ipswich college’s under-18s side were roared on to victory in their NatWest Cup last-16 clash with Whitgift on Wednesday.
The Joeys turned in a battling performance to overcome their illustrious London opponents at Belstead Road, 20-12, and set up a quarter-final tie with director of rugby Joel Unsworth’s former school, Wilmslow High School.
Running in four tries, St Joseph’s were the more expansive side on an excellent surface and were buoyed by a raucous home crowd, made up of children, parents and teachers, who made their presence felt throughout.
Patterson said: “It’s like having a 16th man with the crowd behind us like that.
“When you go away to different places, you can face cauldron-like atmospheres which can sometimes inspire you, but can also have the opposite effect.
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“They (Whitgift) knew they were up against it today on what was a big occasion for the whole school.
“When we discovered we would be playing at home again, if we defeated Whitgift, that was fantastic for us.
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“The pitch plays a big part too, I don’t think there is a better surface in school rugby and that allows us to play the way we practice, whereas you can go away and find yourself playing on a postage stamp of a pitch or a mudbath.”
The hosts led 5-0 at the break, courtesy of a Luke Cerely try and were unlucky to not be further in front, when another try, from Cameron Ives, was ruled out for a forward pass.
In a cagey first half, the closest Whitgift came to reducing the deficit was from a missed penalty attempt, before the floodgates opened in the second half.
“We took our chances and perhaps could have taken a couple more,” said Unsworth, who saw Ross Taylor put his side 10-0 up early in the second half, before Luke Palmer and Ives scored either side of two pick and drive tries from the visitors, one of which was converted.
“Expectations were quite calm this year as we lost a hell of a lot of players last year, but what we have is a team that work tirelessly for each other,” added Unsworth.
“We picked off the odd mis-match out wide and fronted up as well and made them work for their tries. There were no gimmes for Whitgift and our defence was massive again.”
Principal, Danielle Clarke, said: “On a bitterly cold day, we were delighted that the St Joseph’s ‘family’ was out to cheer the team on to this fantastic victory that once again puts the school on a national stage.”