The 1st XV’s 2019 Champions Trophy campaign came to an end in the semi-final against one of the top school sides in the country. In a physical battle the likes of the U6th can only remember from last year’s final against Wellington, Epsom and Wellington both had their “purple patches” within the game. Wellington, however, were far more clinical when on top, using bruising runners to win collisions and then moving the ball into space.
Wellington went up first 7-0 and thus it stayed for the first 30 minutes, even with Epsom having a few opportunities in Wellington’s half. However, some tired Epsom bodies gave in to the power of Wellington in the last five minutes of the half, as Epsom lost more collisions than they won and Wellington scored three more tries to make it 26-0 at half time.
This group of players, as shown last Saturday against Cranleigh, have a tremendous amount of character and refused to give in. Bryn Bradley (H) went over for Epsom’s first points of the game from a set scrum move, Tom Lynagh (F) converting. Wellington then responded quickly to go 31-7 up. Kitan Ojo (H) went over for an interception try, and with ten minutes to go, Lynagh jinked his way through the Wellington line to score a try to make it 19-31. It appeared the comeback was on.
However, Wellington came back and were once again physical and clinical, scoring two quick tries to make it 19-41. As ever, Epsom continued to play and move the ball, with Jack Briggs (P) going over in the corner with the final play of the game. A performance and test of character to be proud of for everyone involved in the 1st XV.
While the Champions Trophy journey may be over for one more year, there are two more tests in Hurstpierpoint and St John’s awaiting after exeat.
Tries: Bradley (H), Ojo (H), Lynagh (F), Briggs (P)
Player of the Match: Tom Lynagh (F) – instrumental from fly half.
See below an extract from Fifteen Rugby’s review of the match, and read it in full here.
At that point [half time] those watching could have been forgiven for writing the game off as a done deal, despite how much time was left on the clock. However that would have been to ignore the quality that Epsom College has at their disposal. It is no accident that up until Saturday they had been unbeaten this season and are rated among the top handful of teams in the country.
That level of performance does not just take skill, it takes a huge amount of mental application and both of those assets were on full show in the face of a seemingly insurmountable challenge. First outside centre Kitan Ojo threw in a wonderful fend and then raced to the try line, fitting reward for an afternoon of hassling and harrying the Wellington College midfield, then the outstanding Thomas Lynagh took matters into his own hands. The exciting fly half arced around on the right hand side and jinked his way across for his side’s third try.
31-7 was suddenly 31-19 and whispers began, was this wonderful tournament that so often throws up high drama about to have its most dramatic moment of all? Epsom’s tails were up, and Wellington College, for the first time in the game, were just starting to make a few errors.