The Ley School, Cambridge clinched the u18s Vase at Twickenham yesterday after 30 minutes of actual performance saw them squeeze past Ravens Wood, Bromley 16-8, in a tense match. The Vase has displayed some fantastic matches and is a great opportunity for schools who are given a very touch end of the draw, to continue their seasons. Over the years a number of players have featured in the Vase and then gone on to play at the highest level, with Manu Tuilagi being one that springs to mind when John Cleveland College won the Vase in 2009.
It was Ravens Wood who started the stronger, spurred on by their vocal fans and semi final heartache of last season. They put pressure on the Cambridgeshire School with a series of big hits, forcing a turnover and then fed the ball to their big strike runners to hit it up. Their efforts were rewarded with a Penalty by fly half Tom Coombes.
However, their lead was soon eradicated, as England u19s and The Ley School fly half Will Hooley hit back with a penalty of his own. The fly half put in a fine display, making a number of strong tackles and pinging the corners to force Ravens Wood to attack from deep.
Despite another period of Ravens Wood pressure, it was The Ley school who took the lead after Man of the Match and captain Fraiser Heathcote burst through a number of tackles to take play up to the Ravens Wood line. A cut out pass from Hooley then put away will McGahey for the first try of the match and gave The Ley school a slender lead going into half time.
The Ley school finally kicked into gear in the second half, pilling on the pressure through a number of line breaks and big ball carriers. Their efforts were rewarded with a further Hooley penalty coupled with a well-worked try for second row Oliver Webber.
At 16-3 the result seemed a done deal, however, with the Ravens Wood supporters rallied around their team and the final 10 minutes saw them pounding away. Despite this pressure, The Cambridge based schools defense held strong, as Ravens Wood became more desperate for a score knowing that time was against them.
Their efforts were rewarded as centre Shaun Osborne squeezed over in the corner. With the missed conversion, it was too little too late for Ravens Wood, who needed two further scores to get back into the match.
The nerves that are experienced when playing infront of 12000 people at Twickenham in a cup final were evident through out, with a number of ‘moments of madness’. Despite this, The Ley School demonstrated their class and were able to come through it with the win. In flanker Heathcote they have a powerful ball carrier who’s work rate was outstanding and such a performance was cup final worthy.
Dauntsey’s School took the u15 Vase after defeating Sir Thomas Rich School by 17 points to 5 following a very impressive display by openside flanker Toby Small.