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Trent College have booked a date at Twickenham – the home of England Rugby – after romping into the Under 18 Natwest Vase Final with an emphatic seven try 41-7 semi-final victory over QEH Bristol at Allianz Park on Sunday (9 March).
James Benstead and Zach Gundry both scored two tries apiece to set up a Vase final clash with Exeter College at Twickenham on Saturday 29 March.
The NatWest Schools Cup competition is the premier tournament in schools rugby. 1,000 teams, at U15 and U18 level, enter the competition. All schools that enter play for a main Cup, and there is also a Vase for teams knocked out in the early rounds.
This is the first time that Trent College has qualified for the Natwest Vase final, while their final opponents, Exeter College, won the U18s Cup in 2004-2005.
Trent College were untouchable in victory over QEH after lock Benstead and the boot of Gabriel Calland quickly handed the team a 7-0 lead. Further tries from Oli George, Gundry (2), and Will Allman, plus another Calland conversion, ensured Trent had an almost unassailable 29-7 advantage at the break.
If the message at half-time was don’t do anything stupid, the Trent boys went for the jugular in the second half, with further tries from Benstead and Ashley Britton and a George Boden conversion, all without reply, which wrapped up a resounding victory.
Captain Ben Trembling said: “The spirit of the team has been remarkable all season. There is a real buzz around the whole team. It’s not really sunk in yet that we will be playing at Twickenham, but the excitement is growing each day.
“The crowd was phenomenal; they were our 16th man. The noise they brought was top class. We set a very solid platform in the first 20 minutes that let us dictate the game. Our intensity, physicality and skill level was just too much for QEH.”
Guy Hope, Head of Rugby at Trent College, added: “The game was played in a superb spirit. Both teams were a credit to their schools. The win was a genuine team effort. In the early stages, a 25m driving maul to score a try set the tone in the forwards, whilst the backs played with width and ambition.
“It is a fantastic achievement to reach the final, which epitomises the quality of rugby on offer at Trent College. Thanks must go to the traveling fans for all their efforts on the day too. Both players and supporters are now counting the days to Twickenham!”
Trent’s final opponents, Exeter College, narrowly edged Wirral Grammar School 17-13 in their semi-final encounter. Both games were played at Allianz Park, the home of Saracens Rugby in North London.
A host of England and British Lions stars have played in the Natwest Schools’ Cup in the past including England captain Chris Robshaw, scrum-half Danny Care, centre Manu Tuilagi, flanker James Haskell, and forwards Tom Croft and Courtney Lawes.