St John's School, Leatherhead Boys-U18A vs Reigate 7s
On: Sunday, 05 Mar 2017
In increasingly 'Somme-like' conditions the 1st VII played some outstanding 7's as they saw off some high quality opposition at the U18 Reigate Charity 7's.
A tense game against Whitgift first up ebbed and flowed. Initial pressure from Whitgift had St John's pinned on their own line but some composed and intelligent passing allowed the team to outmanoeuvre a strong defence before a break led to an excellent try by Kimball Klintworth (7-0). Whitgift upped the tempo and St John's had to ensure their defensive structure was at its peak to keep them out. Whitgift were awarded a penalty try for a high tackle (7-7) with 2 minutes to play. Both teams then threw everything at each other. With time almost up St John's broke and a Jordan Bond chip and chase almost resulted in a try but Whitgift held firm and both teams had to settle for a draw.
The pool would likely be decided on points difference. Knowing this St John's played with real tempo in their remaining pool games. Reed's were beaten 42-7 and Sutton Valence 55-0. This gave Whitgift a mountain to climb in their final game - despite a valiant effort by them St John's topped the group and went into the main Cup competition.
They faced Brighton College in the quarter final. As expected when two quality teams face each other no quarter was asked or given as both teams attacked and defended with intensity. St John's struck first as some deft handling gave Joe Jelinek space and he beat his man to score (7-0). Despite some excellent last ditch defence a smart break from a ruck allowed Brighton to score (7-5). The second half was equally as energy sapping. St John's were looking more dominant and this was rewarded when a counter ruck by Hugo Coughlan (!) allowed Tom Davison to pick up and his strength and footwork saw him reach the line (12-5). With time running down Kimball Klintworth used his guile to beat his man and secure St John's the win (19-5).
The semi final was against a much vaunted Tonbridge team. However St John's got off to an excellent start as some good work by Cameron Hyne saw the ball go loose and Jordan Bond pounced on it to score (5-0). Another epic duel ensued as both teams attacked with flair and defended stoutly. It was Tonbridge who scored next (5-7) and that remained the score at half time, although it required a quite remarkable chase back, tackle and jackal from Jordan Bond to save what looked a certain try for Tonbridge. The second half was schoolboy 7's at its best despite the turgid conditions. More good attacking play by St John's saw Henry Stevens hand off his man to score under the posts (12-7). Tonbridge came flying back and despite some good defence scored again (12-14). With two minutes left a break by Archie Dunnill almost resulted in a try as he and then Toby McRae came agonisingly close to scoring. Jordan Bond also nearly nipped in but the Tonbridge sweeper was at the top of his game. He proved the difference in the final play too, after an incisive run by Jack Potter looked to be taking St John's to the final but a quite outstanding tackle saved the game for Tonbridge. It was a remarkable game of 7's and was won and lost on the finest of margins. Tonbridge then went on to beat Epsom College in the final.
This tournament proved that St John's are worthy of being talked about alongside the top rugby playing schools in the country. Now they need to show the consistency to maintain this form in the remaining three tournaments.