Matthew Burns

POWELL WINS HOUSE RUGBY IN EXCITING FINAL AGAINST SEDGWICK

Powell House won the 2017 House Football Cup with a 31-17 victory over Sedgwick  House. This was the culmination of the most competitive tournament of recent years that saw Powell edge into the final with a 6-5 victory over a resurgent Hart House team and a 12-10 win against pre-tournament favourites Evans.

Sedgwick had an equally perilous route to claim their place in the final with wins over School House and a last-gasp try saw them overcome Winder with the final play of the game.

With the final postponed until the first week of the Summer term and both sides missing a significant number of players due to injuries and international commitments, supporters and players alike were a little apprehensive that the final would not live up to the drama and quality of the previous rounds.

However, these fears were unfounded as both sides took to Riverside looking to play at pace and with immense tenacity at the breakdown. The Sedgwick back-row trio of Jack Hutchinson, Ben Patchett and Cameron Steel were particularly prominent and, as a result, Powell found themselves starved of ball at times throughout the match.

Fortunately for Powell, their backline did not need too many opportunities with ball-in-hand before they started to make some clean line breaks. Sam Down and Joel Pearson pulled the strings at half-back and Josh Hodge and James Magee capitalised on the space provided as a result of their excellent distribution.

Hodge scored the first try but Sedgwick responded quickly with a try from Peter Baerschmidt following powerful carrying from the dangerous centre pairing of Ethan Madronal and Kyle Kitney.

Sedgwick’s power game continued to impress and Kitney was the beneficiary of a superb offload from the outstanding Hutchinson to take a 12-7 lead.

Powell’s next two tries came in very different ways. The second law of thermodynamics was proved as chaos and disorder followed precision and execution. The first saw a slick line-out fed to Down who hit Pearson drifting wide. A holding-line from Brad Clements (the 1st XV and Scotland U19 hooker surprised to find himself deployed in the centre) provided space for Magee who skipped through a hole before delivering a try-scoring pass to Alistair James. Pearson’s next major involvement was to mishit a kick into a Sedgwick defender but Down was the first to react, pouncing on the loose ball before scampering away to score under the posts.

Powell turned around with a 21-12 lead and scored the first points of the second-half through a well-struck penalty by Hodge. Sedgwick continued to launch a physical onslaught with Ed Martin particularly to the fore.

Hutchinson found his way to the line to cut the Powell House lead to five points. Powell needed to respond quickly and the talismanic Will Green took the following restart to set the tone. Powell pressure followed and Pearson again found a gap to then release Magee to score a try that was a well-deserved reward for his all-round excellent performance.

Sedgwick redoubled their efforts and came close to scoring again but Powell hung on to claim victory.

As ever with House Rugby, this game and this tournament provided many instances of individual brilliance and skill from the established players of Big Side but also threw up many stories of players from the 3rd, 4th, A1 and A2 XVs who punched above their weight and rose to the occasion.

The standard of football being played at the school is extremely high and the pride and passion of the houses is undiminished. There cannot be many, if any, schools in the country that could have three international players unavailable for a House fixture yet still see two take the field. Not to mention the hard-hitting (in two senses of the word!) golf international who played out of his skin in the preliminary rounds and the Exocet missile of a shooting international who stepped into his position in the final!

Not to mention the hard-hitting (in two senses of the word!) golf international who played out of his skin in the preliminary rounds and the Exocet missile of a shooting international who stepped into his position in the final!

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