St John's School, Leatherhead Boys-U18A vs Shiplake 7s
On: Sunday, 05 Feb 2017
The 1st VII enjoyed a successful day at the Shiplake 7's tournament, losing only one game and winning the Plate Competition. Depleted by injuries and players selected for the Harlequins Academy U18 team there was a feeling that this could be a tough day at the office. However all those boys who played did well and there will be a real battle for places when the others return.
In the first game against Seaford College, St John's played some of their best 7's of the day. They defended with real structure and purpose giving Seaford no space before then scoring with their first attack - good hands leading to a try for Joe Jelinek. St John's then took control as Henry Stevens scored a brace, with additional tries for Tom Davison and Jack Rickerd. Hugo Coughlan was also proving to be at his influential best in the 27-0 victory.
Hurst were next up and had looked strong in their first game. However St John's were dominant from the first whistle and were 21-0 up at the break (2 tries for Toby McRae and one for Joe Jelinek). Henry Stevens scored another early in the second half before Hurst scored one of their own. However Kieran Davidson showed his pace as he sped down the wing to finish the scoring (35-7).
With the fate of the pool in their own hands St John's were not quite at their best in their final pool game but still overcame New Hall 45-14. Tom Davison, who had a very strong tournament and was unbeatable in the lineout, scored two as did Joe Jelinek, with tries also for Tom Neale, Toby McRae and Hugo Coughlan.
This put St John's into the top tier Cup Competition. However the semi final performance against Eastbourne was the low point of the day. All of the composed and well crafted 7's went out of the window as the team seemed to change tactics. Poor decisions, a lack of composure and some weak tackling allowed Eastbourne real momentum which, as a good side, they were not going to squander. Despite tries from Joe Jelinek, Archie Dunnill and a brilliant solo effort by Hugo Coughlan St John's went down 21-26.
This meant they would face Cheltenham in the Plate Final. Despite their bitter disappointment at their performance in the semi final St John's showed a strong temperament as they focused on the job at hand. Bas Senior and Will Freeman showed good physicality to score before Hugo Coughlan scored a third just before half time. Henry Stevens effectively sealed the game with a try straight after half time before two tries from Tom Neale added more points to the score line (36-0).
Overall the boys played well and proved they are good enough to compete with the top schools around. But for one bad game things could have been even better, however that was an important learning curve and may prove a real positive with regards to future tournaments.