“Powerful Perse” charge through to next round of Natwest Cup
Congratulations to the first XV rugby team, who are through to the next round of the NatWest Schools Cup, following a 21-12 victory over Norwich School yesterday, putting the Perse in the last 16 teams of the competition. This is yet another fantastic performance from the team, continuing their successful season. The “Powerful Perse” (as they have been described by In At The Side) is “fast becoming the dark horse that no side wants to meet”, according to the RFU coverage of the Cup.
Head of Rugby at the Perse, Liam St John, reports on this excellent game:
After two impressive wins on the road against perennial powerhouses Northampton School for Boys and Oakham School, the Perse 1st XV were finally drawn at home to Norwich school in a much hyped Round 6 clash of the U18 NatWest Cup.
The opening exchanges of the game saw the forwards battling out for early dominance, with strong ball carries been met by equally robust defence from both teams. The Perse pack, led from the front by Nick Cox, Tom Picton-Turbervill and Charlie Salisbury, started to exert its dominance over the Norwich team, establishing good field position and the lion’s share of possession.
Pressure told with an early penalty conceded by Norwich seeing centre Pete Gordon slot an easy three points from in front of the post. The Perse team continued to strengthen its hold on the game, with fly-half Connor Sullivan and full back James Knoop working the team into good positions with a smart kicking game.
The pressure on Norwich eventually told, lock Alex Jackson charging down a clearance kick in the Norwich 22m before winning the foot race to the ball and grounding it for the game’s first try. Pete Gordon was unable to convert the extras from just inside the right touchline, leaving the Perse 8-0 up.
A moment of individual brilliance from full-back James Knoop saw him gather the ball from a kick on his own 22m line, before going on a scything run that left several Norwich defenders trailing in his wake. A surge of anticipatory noise from the touchline spurred him all the way to the Norwich 5m line, with what looked to be an all but certain try of the season on the cards, before the final offload to Oli Parker fell astray and Norwich able to breathe a sigh of relief.
A further Pete Gordon penalty put the team 11-0 to the good shortly after. Sustained pressure in the Norwich 22m saw the Perse win a penalty on the left-hand touchline; quick-thinking scrum half and captain Harry Hitchcock tapped and played the ball to the right, with a superb cut out pass from centre Toby Hackett, putting form winger Oli Parker away in the right-hand corner, taking the score to 16-0 to the Perse just before half-time.
The game continued in a similar vein after the restart, with the Perse forwards establishing their dominance, number 8 Oscar Giles and flanker Bryn Kendrick-Jones getting themselves more into the game with strong ball carries in the loose. A penalty in midfield was kicked to the corner, with the ever impressive Perse lineout catching and driving over from short range to take the scores to 21-0, with Pete Gordon again narrowly missing the touchline conversion.
With the clock ticking away and the game seemingly slipping away from them, Norwich came back at full tilt, throwing just about everything including the kitchen sink at the resolute Perse defence, which defiantly held strong for long periods of pressure. A poorly timed rather than malicious tip-tackle from centre Toby Hackett saw him sent to the sin bin, taking the Perse defence down to 14 men. Eventually Norwich’s pressure took its toll, with their flanker going over in the right corner after an excellent period of interplay amongst forwards and backs taking them the length of the field. From the resulting kick-off, Norwich came back again with a superb passage of play, offloading and keeping the ball alive before their lock crashed over under the posts.
With the momentum now swung in Norwich’s favour, there were some nervous faces amongst the many Perse supporters on the touchline, but the return of Hackett and stoic defence from the Perse team saw them hold out for a tense final few minutes, relief all round as the referee gave one last blast on the whistle for full time. Final score the Perse 21 – 12 Norwich School.
Head Rugby Coach at the Perse, Tom Dann, commented: “This was another great performance from the first XV, with a confident attack that allowed them to dominate the first half. I commend the Norwich team for their fight-back from our early lead and their determined and spirited effort right to the final whistle.”
The Perse 1st XV will now play the winner of Adams’ Grammar School and King Edward’s VI School, Stratford-Upon-Avon in Round 7 (Last 16) of the Natwest Schools Cup. The date is yet to be confirmed, likely for the second half of January.
In the U15 Natwest cup, the as yet unbeaten Perse side look to round off the term in style with their 6th round clash against a strong Trinity School, Croydon to be played at The Perse, 2.15pm Kick off on Thursday 12 December.
The final block fixture of the rugby term sees the first of this month’s cross-town rugby rivalries played out as the Perse play The Leys School, with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd XVs playing away and the U16A, U16B, U15A and U15B sides playing at home, all 2.15pm kick-offs on Saturday 7 December.