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From the Archives: Natwest quarter-final heartbreak for 1st XV

The following article is taken from Hampton Sports Chronicle’s Summer 2014 edition, which was edited by Matt Roberts and Jake Goodwill (both OH 2014).

By Tom Berry, Joe Burdis, Jake Goodwill, Hugo Green and Alex Griffith-Jones (OH 2014/2015)

3rd Round – Wimbledon College 0-31 Hampton 31

As covered in the last issue, Hampton faced Wimbledon College in the Natwest Cup after receiving byes through the first two rounds after their run to the semi-final last year. Hampton won the match comfortably with the game ending 31-0. A fourth-round clash against KCS Wimbledon awaited them in the next round.

4th Round – Hampton 27-7 KCS Wimbledon

Hampton made a huge statement in the Natwest Cup after a fourth-round victory over local rivals KCS Wimbledon. In front of a packed touchline, the 1st XV professionally dispatched a dangerous and well-drilled King’s College side to set up a fifth-round tie against St Benedict’s.

Winger Jim Phillipson opened the scoring after breezing past his opposite man to finish in the corner. This was immediately backed up as Hampton elected to run the ball straight from kick-off, and after some silky offloads, second-row Jacob Goss found himself stepping round the King’s fullback to score under the posts.

King’s quickly replied with a try of their own to narrow the scoreline; however, Hampton finished the half stronger as prop Sam Curran laboured over the line to end the first-half with a 17-7 lead.

A Hampton front rower powers forward

In the second half, Hampton started where they had left off, with Dan Barley scoring a brilliant individual try and George Tunnacliffe converting a simple penalty to make the score 27-7.

Despite some King’s pressure in the last 20 minutes which resulted in a well-worked try from KCS, the away side were unable to make up the deficit, leaving Hampton as the victors by a scoreline of 27-14.

5th Round – St. Benedict’s 7-7 Hampton (Hampton progress as away side)

The Natwest Cup fifth round tie between Hampton and St. Benedict’s was an excruciatingly tight encounter which finished 7-7, with Hampton progressing as the away team.

The game hung in the balance from the start, and despite periods of sustained pressure from both sides, the scores were level at half-time.

St. Benedict’s started the second-half strongly and were held out repeatedly by relentless defence. The pressure continued to mount on Hampton as they were camped on their own line when winger Alfie Battle intercepted a pass off the back of a St. Benedict’s scrum. Battle proceeded to run half the length of the field before skilfully rounding the opposition fullback and sprinting to the try line.

It was truly an outstanding individual effort that went down as one of the tries of the season. A difficult conversion on the right-hand touchline was kicked by captain Akira Takenaka.

Despite the lead, in a period of sustained dominance Hampton failed to extend their advantage, missing a penalty and drop-goal opportunity. It was at this juncture that St. Benedict’s started to re-gain a foothold in the game and force their way down-field with wave after wave of attack.

A driving maul in the Hampton twenty-two led to a well-worked move down the blindside, with St. Benedicts’ winger scoring in the corner. The subsequent kick was converted to bring the scores level, but Hampton were fully aware of the away-side rule and showed a great deal of composure to hold out for the final ten minutes.

6th Round – Hampton 11-6 Whitgift

In the weeks leading up to the sixth-round tie against Whitgift, there was an unspoken and palpable sense of significance. The team was fully aware of what it would take to overcome the two-time champions that have earned themselves a reputation as consistent competitors at the top level of school rugby.

As the day dawned it seemed that many of the uncontrollable factors were shifting in Whitgift’s favour: persistent rain drove the team to a smaller pitch than expected, something that should’ve allowed Whitgift an opportunity to play an abrasive, tight game.

A fervent talk from the talismanic Akira Takenaka then helped to further instil belief and passion into the already determined team. Having been starved of possession, Hampton had done incredibly well, heading into half-time with just a six-point deficit to overturn. Whitgift hadn’t even entered the Hampton 22, relying on penalties for their points.

Despite being behind there was a sense of optimism at half-time: Hampton would have the advantage of the wind in the second-half and the fact that Whitgift’s lead could be overturned by a single score illustrated the strength of the position.

Accurate tactical kicking from Rory Chatterton allowed a territorial advantage, and after intense periods of pressure in the Whitgift 22, he was able to convert two well-earned penalties.

The scores were level and with 15 minutes left, Hampton had built momentum that carried them immediately back into the Whitgift half. George Tunnacliffe started to challenge the Whitgift defence with probing grubber kicks creating a number of half-chances.

From just inside the Whitgift 22, Hampton set up a well-formed maul and powered well past the line, allowing Paul van der Merwe to score the deserved points to take the South-West Londoners into Round Seven.

Round of 16 – Hampton 11-0 Campion

Despite driving rain, Hampton battled to victory over Campion in an exciting seventh-round tie, booking a quarter-final date with RGS High Wycombe after an 11-0 win.

Despite being the favourites, Hampton faced a tough match against Campion, who came into the game fresh from a School’s Cup victory over St. Joseph’s College, and with a win under their belt after their last encounter with Hampton.

After a solid start, it was Hampton who chalked up the first points of the match with a penalty from Rory Chatterton. Campion stepped up the pressure, but Hampton defended well – as they had done all season.

They were rewarded with a try from Jacob Goss, making the score 8-0 at half-time.

In the second-half, Campion came out determined to redress the balance, but Hampton were able to deal with everything thrown at them thanks to some great defensive work, particularly from Matt Lundberg and Paul van der Merwe.

Despite the slippery conditions favouring the scrappy away team, Hampton held on to score again through Rory Chatterton’s penalty, taking the final score-line to 11-0 and giving Hampton a place in the last eight.

Quarter-final – RGS High Wycombe 6-0 Hampton

Following February’s torrential rainfall, the match was moved to a 3G surface, something that promised a slight advantage with Hampton’s brand of expansive rugby.

The team headed onto the pitch confident having beaten RGS earlier in the season. From the start, signs of nerves were exhibited – coupled with the conditions, mistakes were inevitable.

Hampton were 3-0 within a minute, but for the next quarter their defensive strategy went to plan: set-piece dominance and brutal tackling starving RGS of any opportunities.

Despite this, their mistakes countered the good work as hard-earned breakdowns were followed by costly errors, meaning the team couldn’t exit the 22. This eventually led to a penalty, making the score 6-0.

Hampton then attacked for ten minutes, but at half-time the team had failed to register a point as the final-pass continued to evade them.

The second-half began well, but Hampton couldn’t convert some good chances. Unfortunately, the usual intelligent and tactical play that characterised the season were becoming increasingly clouded, and the momentum shifted to RGS who were able to position themselves inside the 22.

RGS had no desire to score and were content on simply maintaining possession. In the final ten minutes, Hampton pushed hard but their defence could not be breached.

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