Five-try Whitgift blitz John Fisher in local schools’ derby

The crowd was two or three deep around the pitch in the weak autumn sunshine as Whitgift took on John Fisher last week

The crowd was two or three deep around the pitch in the weak autumn sunshine as Whitgift took on John Fisher last week in one of the country’s biggest schools matches

RUGBY ROUND-UP: After scoring 24 points in a first-half blitz, Whitgift School’s first XV took the local bragging rights (again), as they beat John Fisher 38-10 last Saturday.

They are probably entitled to expect such a performance, given the financial resources … sorry, “bursaries”, that are made available to Whitgift for recruiting some of the country’s top sporting talent for their rugby, cricket and hockey sides.

This autumn, the annual grudge match took place on the South Croydon school’s well-appointed playing fields, and as is the custom it drew a crowd of more than a thousand parents and boys who had played in their own age group matches earlier in the day.

Fisher’s XV were clearly nervous, leading to a succession of costly penalties which handed the advantage, and points, to their rivals.

Tries from prop forward Michael Young, Harold “Harry” Wilson (attending Whitgift, who’d have thought?), and a penalty try after a foul on Sid Holland as he was about to score, all converted, plus a penalty kicked by Alex Hogg, saw the home side 24-3 up at half-time, Fisher’s only reward a George Simpson penalty.

The second-half followed a similar pattern after Whitgift scrum half Alex Patton scored the period’s first try, which was converted. Fisher’s first try of the game came from centre Nathan Best – himself a former Whitgift pupil. But the knock-out blow from Whitgift came with a 60-metre breakaway run from their England international full-back, Matt Gallagher.

The other leading local rugby-playing school, Trinity, enjoyed a 17-0 win over the usually strong Brighton College.

In club rugby, Fisher old boys, Purley-John Fisher, did somewhat better than the school side last Saturday, overcoming the second-placed team in London 3SW by out-scoring Old Tiffinians by four tries to three, winning 31-23.

And that after PJF conceded the opening try within a minute of the kick-off.

Flanker Phil Jones, from one of the club’s favoured drive from a line-out, equalised at 5-5 soon after with Purley-John Fisher’s opening score, and after an exchange of penalty kicks, PJF attacked through quick hands and piercing runs deep into their opponents’ half.

Winger Mark Trumper was unlucky not to score as he rounded off a fluid move only to be held up short in the corner. From this territorial advantage PJF’s forwards exerted pressure on the defence, which prop James Quigley exploited to score PJF’s second try.

Another Martin penalty was followed by a slicing break by scrum half James McPartland ably supported by Jones. The following passages of play ended in the ball being spun down the line on to Trumper’s wing. This time he scored and took PJF into half-time 23-11 ahead.

The Tiffin side hit back after the re-start, scoring two quick tries, one of which was converted, to level the score.

Dominant in the scrum and a nuisance in the line-out, PJF unsettled the visitors, who made a series of handling errors prompted by a sudden downpour. PJF twisted the defence across the paddock until fly-half Dan Leidecker slid in for PJFs fourth try and the bonus point.

Martin slotted another penalty to complete the scoring. Purley-John Fisher visit Teddington this Saturday.

In the same division, Old Mid-Whitgiftians lost 25-18 at New Milton last Saturday, their first defeat of the league season, but Midwives remain in third place in the table. They entertain Ellingham and Ringwood this week.

Warlingham's James Agate, with the ball, proved almost unstoppable at Tadley last week

Warlingham’s scrum half James Agate, with the ball, proved almost unstoppable at Tadley last week

In the division above PJF and Midwives, Warlingham enjoyed an emphatic win 56-22 at Tadley Tigers in Berkshire, scoring seven tries and with full-back Joe McEvoy kicking 21 points in this London 2SW encounter.

Warlingham scored four of their tries before half-time to secure the bonus points through Zack King, James Agate, who chipped, chased and then jinxed past what was left of the defence for the second, while winger Jack Atkinson made a 40-metre run to claim his score, and captain Jon Osborne nabbed the fourth.

After the turnaround, Warlingham continued the pressure. Prop Lewis Unsworth and lock Neil Robson were the epitome of a solid defence and nothing got past them, especially when Tadley were camped on the Warlingham.

Centre Brad Saffery broke away and through the Tadley defence to give Luke Delderfield a scoring pass, while bulky prop Kieran Scutt shrugged off tackles to put Atkinson in for his second try. The final try came from Agate, who nailed the result with his own long-range run to the try-line.

Warlingham still seek their first home league win of the season, but this Saturday’s visit to Hamsey Green of division leaders London Cornish may prove to be a significant challenge.

Down in the county divisions, Old Whitgiftians host a top-of-the-table clash Surrey 1 at Croham Manor Road on Saturday. Despite losing 14-28 at Old Wimbledonians last week, Whitgiftians remain second in the table and this week play host to top team Battersea Ironsides.

In Surrey 2, things don’t get any easier for Croydon, beaten 29-0 at home last week by table-toppers Old Freemans. On Saturday, Croydon travel to second-in-the-table Old Amplefordians. Old Walcountians will have been encouraged by their 35-10 defeat of Cranleigh, before they face Old Blues this week.

Finally, in Surrey 3, Streatham-Croydon were perhaps shrewd to accept a 17-10 defeat at the Metropolitan Police. They may manage to get a decent write-up after this Saturday’s home game at Frant Road, when they take on London Media.

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