RHS vs Whitgift - Last 16 National U15 Cup
RHS hosted Whitgift on a cold and blustery day at RHS on Thursday 17 January. It was a mouth watering fixture as it pitted two undefeated teams against one another and the boys from both teams put everything into the opening 10 minutes. Whitgift used their very effective 'pick and go' tactic well and made good yardage against a dogged RHS defence, which eventually forced a turn over and error from Whitgift giving RHS a scrum inside their own 22m area. Joel S spread the ball wide quickly to Max P who hit a great line and went the length of the field while rounding the Whitgift fullback to score a confidence boosting try for RHS. Joel added the extras for a 7-0 lead. The pressure seemed to be telling on Whitgift as they made a hash of the restart, gifting RHS possession. RHS' pressure then resulted in a penalty to them, unfortunately touch was missed and Whitgift counter attacked well and kept possession into the RHS 22m area again. This time Whitgift kept their composure and went through the phases to eventually crash over the line, with the extras added to make the score 7-a-piece.
Whitgift now seemed to be gaining the upper hand and their pressure resulted in a number of penalties being given their way and a team warning issued by the referee for tacklers not releasing and hands in the ruck. Captain, Aston G-L, was unlucky to be on the receiving end of a team yellow card in the RHS 22m area and from the resulting penalty and wave of attacks from Whitgift another try was scored by them taking the score to 7-14. RHS managed to hold on until half time without conceding any further points and by this stage Aston had re-entered the fray.
Playing into the wind and uphill in the second half was going to be tough for RHS in the second half and unfortunately some rushed and panicked play gifted Whitgift possession of the ball early in the second half which ended up with them scoring their third try, again converted to take a lead of 7-21. RHS did not give up hope and pieced together some good phase and attacking play. They looked dangerous in the Whitgift half but a good turnover by Whitgift saw their flyhalf use the wind wisely with his boot and put pressure on RHS' fullback, Charlie W, who had recovered the kick. This meant RHS were camped in their 22m area again and a relieving kick from Joel did not gain much ground into the strong wind. Whitgift kept the ball tight from the lineout and went through their 'pick and go' strategy again, eventually coming away with an unconverted try in the left hand corner. The score was now 7-26.
RHS showed true character and determination, with some big carries by Aston, Archie F and Michael VH and ably supported by the lively flankers, Eli G and Ollie D. Yet every time they started to look threatening in the Whitgift 22m area the ball was turned over and the pressure relieved by their flyhalf. The game eventually ended with the same score line and a very pleased Whitgift team who will now host Millfield School in the quarter final of the National U15 Cup. Credit must go to the whole RHS U15 squad for a very strong performance and but for some key moments lost in the match it could have been a very different result.