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Trent College will play at Twickenham for the second time in four years after securing an impressive 29-15 U18s Natwest Vase semi-final victory over The Perse School, Cambridgeshire at Saracens’ Allianz Park on Saturday (4 March).
The Long Eaton school, who won the same competition in 2014, will now face The Royal Latin School, Buckingham in the U18 Vase final at the home of England rugby on Wednesday 29 March.
The Trent College boys came flying out of the blocks to race into a 14-0 lead through converted tries from Ben Goddard and Brandon Joss. Although a penalty kick got Perse on the scoreboard, it did nothing to upset Trent’s momentum as Harvey Doleman then crossed the line for his side to hold a 21-3 advantage at the break.
The ever reliable boot of Ben Dickinson, who kicked nine points in total in the match, extended Trent’s lead straight after half-time before his older brother Jack, team captain in the absence of Andy Brown, scored his team’s fourth try of the day.
Trent were forced to then defend resolutely in the final stages of the game as two late Perse tries – one of which was converted – reduced the arrears, but as the final whistle blew the victory was no more than the 2014 Vase winners had earned.
Speaking immediately after the match, Jack Dickinson said: “This is absolutely brilliant, I can’t describe what I’m feeling right now. We stuck to our processes, played what we’ve been practicing all season and showed some really good resolve towards the end to come through altogether. It was really good from all the lads.”
Steve McGinnis, Trent College Head of Rugby, continued: “We’re very proud of what the boys have done so far; 1 to 22 they’ve given themselves one more game this season to continue their progress, it just happens to be at Twickenham, which will be a fantastic experience. All credit to The Perse School who battled to the end and made it very difficult for us, but the boys held firm and came through it.”
In the other semi-final, The Royal Latin School, themselves winners of the U15 Vase in 2013, secured a comfortable 31-12 win against Silcoates School from Wakefield. Having stayed on to watch this match after Trent’s own semi-final McGinnis knows his side is in for a tough battle at Twickenham.
He added: “Well done to The Royal Latin, they played with confidence and ambition, which is great to see, but we will try not to give them too much freedom in the final. A number of this Royal Latin side were in the U15 Vase winning team in 2013 so will have some experience of playing at Twickenham that our boys won’t. But we will be keeping the players grounded and working hard to prepare over the next couple of weeks.”
The Natwest Cup and Vase is the biggest schools rugby tournament in the world, with over 1,000 entries in the U18 and U15 competitions from across England, Wales and the Isle of Man. It has served as a springboard to launch the careers of some of England’s brightest stars such as Tom Wood, Manu Tuilagi and Marland Yarde.