RGS, High Wycombe won the U15 Daily Mail RBS Cup for the fourth time in their history after surviving a thrilling late fightback from Truro School to squeeze past the Cornishmen 17-15.
RGS totally dominated possession and territory in the opening exchanges, with Ewan Gillespie missing a penalty shot on five minutes, and the Buckinghamshire side proceeded to cross the whitewash on four separate occasions, only to be held up each time.
It took until the 20th minute for RGS to register a score, as tireless openside flanker Alexander Murphy collected skipper Jack Statham’s well timed pass to finally break a seemingly impermeable Truro defence and dart over in the corner.
RGS extended their lead to 12 points five minutes later when Ross Neal barged his way over the try line after Louis Pow’s strong carry had set the platform for the attack.
Truro did manage to force a penalty after a rare spell of possession in the RGS half of the field, which captain Ned Warne, hero of their win over then-tournament favourites Whitgift School in the last round, slotted from 40 metres with the last kick of the first period to make the score 12-3.
RGS scored their third try of their afternoon three minutes after the restart through Jonty Cook, who dived over just inside the touchline, and at that point it seemed to be more a case of how great RGS’ winning margin would be rather than if Truro could haul themselves back into contention.
Truro, who had never lost in their four seasons as a team, at least managed to stem the flow of RGS tries as a battle of attrition commenced, and even their most diehard supporters could not have expected replacement Aidan Maskell’s try with just over two minutes remaining, which reduced Truro’s arrears to 9 points, to be anything more than scant consolation.
Ned Warne, however, was intent on preserving his side’s unbeaten streak, and from the restart he set off on an incredible, scything run through some flimsy RGS defence to set up his fellow centre and Exeter Chiefs Academy player Tom Holdsworth for another five-pointer and, in turn, a nerve-racking grandstand finish.
Despite Truro managing to work their way from 22 to 22 in the little time left, RGS held strong as they did in their 15-14 triumph over The Perse School in the semi-finals and regained the trophy that they last lifted in 1998.
RGS head coach Liam Doubler could hardly contain his emotion at the final whistle and believes that several of his team can look forward to exciting times ahead.
“I’m getting used to close calls after the semi, but that was awesome,” said Doubler.
“I’m so proud of the boys, I might start crying. The boys weren’t overawed by playing at Twickenham and they just performed.
“Jack Statham has been outstanding all year and Ben Wood was great today, controlling the game – nothing fazed him. Alex Murphy as well has a great future ahead of him.”
Truro’s players were devastated at the final whistle, but team manager Graham Whitmore was remarkably philosophical about the defeat.
“We knew our run was going to have to end sometime. It’s actually a bit of a monkey off the back,” Whitmore said.
“They’ll move on and learn from this – they’re a confident bunch.
“I was astonished by our poor start – it’s generally such a strength for us. The boys made far too many errors in the first half.
“We didn’t panic at half time and I didn’t think they could live with us in the second half. We played the rugby we knew we could play, and I’m proud the crowd saw that.
“The game really turned on its head. If the game had been a few minutes longer, we would have won,” he added.