Frustration for Devon schools in national competitions
THERE was frustration for two Devon schools in national competitions on Wednesday.
Blundell’s School narrowly lost 34-29 to Dulwich College in the Champions Trophy final at Saracens’ Allianz Park, while Mount Kelly missed out on reaching the semi-finals of the National Schools’ Bowl with a 31-15 defeat to Surrey side St George’s Weybridge.
Blundell’s came so close to denying Dulwich from becoming the first side to win both the Schools’ Cup and Champions Trophy.
Dulwich took the lead with a converted try by Louis Ferrari, but Blendell’s cut the gap with a penalty from impressive centre Barry Karea.
However, Blundell’s found themselves 14-3 down when Sunni Jardine put Femi Sofolarin to a try.
But Karea then produced a moment of magic to break from his own half and beat two defenders before setting up his captain Sam Maunder to score.
And from the next re-start Karea did exactly the same to make a second try for scrum-half Maunder. With Karea converting both tries that put Blundell’s 17-14 in front.
Dulwich, though, managed to go in at half-time 21-17 ahead after hooker Louis Wright scored a try from a driving maul.
After the break, Dulwich increased their advantage to 31-17 with another converted try from Ferrari and a drop-goal from Oscar Gleave.
But Blundell’s did not give up and flanker Luke Simpson got them back into the final when he broke from a maul and beat three defenders to score.
At that point it looked like Dulwich may run away with it but Blundell’s didn’t give up.
Flanker Luke Simpson got them back into the final when he broke from a maul and beat three defenders to score.
And with 12 minutes to go Karea showed his class to evade four Dulwich players to touch-down and also add the conversion to leave his team just two points behind and set up a thrilling ending.
However, Blundell’s could not get a winning score and late on Jardine kicked a penalty for Dulwich to move them five points clear.
Meanwhile, Mount Kelly also showed plenty of spirit in their cup match against St George’s.
The Tavistock-based school found themselves 17-0 down at half-time but managed three tries in the second half courtesy of Ben Dunlop, Leon Horn and Marco Balzanelli.
Despite their defeat, Mount Kelly are optimistic about the future.
“I think this is the furthest we have got in the competition,” said their director of sport Gareth James.
“And for us to be competitive all the way through the game and put 15 points on a school that is three-times the size of us and who play on a circuit of big London schools, is huge bonus for us and a big step forward for our rugby.
“I think this could be a real springboard going forward as we look to become one of the biggest schools in the South West for our rugby.”