Chasing pack turn up heat on Harrow

Chasing pack turn  up heat on Harrow


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November 23, 2023
3 mins read

Ipswich and Brighton Continue to press champions Harrow at the top of the SOCS Daily Mail Schools Trophy table.

While the holders had the weekend off, the main challengers were continuing their unbeaten campaigns in this national competition which has attracted more than 140 teams this autumn. Led by No8 and captain Bobby Eaton Collins, Ipswich used their forward power to outlast Stowe, 31-25, in a Friday-night floodlit match at Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club.

In contrast, Brighton took a more expansive route to beat Epsom College 36-0 the next day.

A good forward platform enabled Brighton to score four tries, including the best of the lot in the second half when No8 Archie Kane burst clear in midfield off a well-timed pass from fly-half Seb McNamara.

‘It was a lovely try and very well executed,’ said Brighton’s director of rugby Nick Buoy. Brighton’s win continues a ‘feelgood’ factor this season.

‘We wanted the squad to set their targets at the beginning of the season,’ Buoy explained. ‘And they decided they wanted to enjoy their rugby, support each other and to play with energy.’

Another factor in the success has been the work of ‘water boy’ James Davies — the injured captain and Harlequins academy No 8, who has taken up a backroom role while he recovers. Whether Ipswich or Brighton will overhaul Harrow depends on results over the next two weekends.

Harrow need wins over Trinity on Saturday and the following weekend against Mill Hill to hold off their pursuers. The margins are likely to be small in this competition, which is played on a merit table basis over the autumn term.

Besides the usual match points, extra merit points are awarded depending on the strength of the opposition, judged on last season’s finishing position.

Harrow lead on an average of 6.40 points per match ahead of Ipswich (6.30) and Brighton (6.28). Behind the top three are two more unbeaten teams in Bromsgrove (5.89) and Eton (5.84). Two schools enjoying their best seasons are sixth-placed Hurstpierpoint College and Gloucester-based Sir Thomas Rich’s in seventh.

While their Sussex rivals Brighton proved too strong earlier in the campaign, Hurstpierpoint have accounted for other strong schools in Whitgift (14-10), RGS Guildford (31-21) and former champions Cranleigh (27-0).

Sir Thomas Rich have also lost only once, 20-17 to Bloxham, and continue to have a fine season including a win last week, under the Kingsholm lights, when they toppled local rivals Cheltenham College (32-14) for a second successive season.

Tom Williams, the college’s head of rugby, was thrilled with the performance. ‘It was a very physical display and had some great performances from a number of players led by captain Ed Anstey, Jay Evans, Ed Scott and Ollie Rendell.'

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