RUGBY: NSB are heading to Twickenham again

OFF TO TWICKENHAM - the NSB rugby team
OFF TO TWICKENHAM - the NSB rugby team

Northampton School for Boys have reached a Twickenham final for the second time in three years.

NSB came through a nail-biting semi-final against Bloxham School to clinch their spot in the NatWest Under-18 Vase final.

They will now face St Ambrose College, who beat Pangbourne College 28-12 in the other semi-final, in the showpiece at Twickenham, which will take place on Wednesday, March 16 (kick-off 2pm).

Having reached the Daily Mail Cup final in 2013, it is a tremendous achievement for a state school to fare so well in the highly competitive world of schools rugby.

This time round it will be in the Vase competition as the young NSB side went down 24-18 to last year’s semi-finalists Oundle School in the second round of the Cup competition.

Since then, however, the school has had a magnificent run with some great away victories against tough opposition.

The semi-final took place at Allianz Park last Saturday, with NSB celebrating a dramatic win against Bloxham. Bloxham had the chance to progress to the final but missed a conversion with the final kick of the game to ensure the game ended 20-20.

That meant NSB, whose line-up contained Jake Diggin, cousin of former Saints winger Paul Diggin, and Connor Tupai, son of ex-Saint Paul Tupai, were the winners as they had scored the first try of the game.

The final-four clash had been an intense affair with efforts from the impressive Jake Johnson and Diggin putting them 12-3 up at the break.

Bloxham fought back and edged in front at 15-12, only for Tupai to send man of the match Johnson over for his second score of the afternoon.

Tom Holliday added a penalty to make it 20-15 but Bloxham scored with the final play of the game.

That set up a match-winning conversion, but it was missed, sparking scenes of celebration in the NSB camp.

“It’s not a way you want to win but they are the rules so we’ll take it,” said Mark Lee, the NSB head of rugby.

“We played well for much of the game and led for large parts, but Bloxham were extremely resilient and kept coming up with ways to fight back.

“On balance I thought we were the better side but it was agonisingly close throughout.

“This is a very young side with great potential, and we are all delighted to be back at Twickenham for the second time in three years.”

NSB squad: Diggin, Farmer, Pittaway, Stanton, Rowlatt, Salt, Inwood, Britton, Tupai, Holliday, Barry, Arimoro, Johnson, Morgan, Timm, Barlow-Doran, Robinson, Clarke, Wilkins, McCabe, Pinnock-Atfield.