WARWICK School were denied the chance of a third successive under-18’s Schools Cup title at Twickenham last week, when they were ousted 32-22 by Whitgrift School.
The defeat prevents the school from joining elite company in Colston’s and Dulwich College in claiming three consecutive titles, although the contest itself proved a thrilling encounter at the national stadium.
Whitgrift flew into a lead on 25 seconds, taking a 7-0 lead from a converted try.
Warwick levelled the scores on the break when Alex Sabin clambered over the line, Henry Mortimer kicking the conversion successfully,
Both sides pushed to take the lead, and it was Whitgrift who were next to score.
A penalty from Ben Fitzgerald nudged his side back in front, though it would not last long as Warwick hit back through Will Pugh’s run over the whitewash, followed by Mortimer’s conversion to lead 14-10.
Charlie Beckett received possession deep in Warwick territory and made no mistake with claiming Whitgrift’s second try, and although the conversion was missed, they led 15-14.
Their lead was extended in the second-half when Tom Berger went between the posts for a converted try and an eight-point advantage.
Mortimer reduced the deficit to five after Warwick were awarded a penalty, who gained some momentum and levelled the scores following a Whitgrift dismissal, Oscar Roberts touching down on the line to set up a tantalising finale.
But Warwick’s hopes were dashed as quickly as they had returned, as Aristot Benz-Salomon broke through their backline.
As Warwick grew frustrated, they gifted Whitgrift a penalty in the final two minutes, duly taken by Fitzgerald to secure a 32-22 victory and the title.
Warwick’s director of rugby, Tom Pierce, was upbeat and could not hide the pride he felt for the team’s battling performance, praising captain Will Kelley in particular.
“Will is just the epitome of Warwick School and he’s been a great captain this year; one of the best we’ve ever had.
“I thought he had an outstanding game along with a lot of players and it was a really, really good team effort. It just could have gone either way and it was nip and tuck in the second half.”
Kelley meanwhile reflected on the positives for the team over the course of the three successive finals reached in recent years.
“Three finals in a row is just impressive. It’s been an intense three years and we went on tour so this is just a good end to the year.”
In all, Warwick won 14 of their 19 fixtures played, and will be hopeful of registering another push for the Schools Cup next campaign.