- Trent hold on to secure silverware
- Exeter denied at the death
Trent College won a dramatic NatWest Under 18 Vase final 17-16 after Exeter College fly half Billy Searle missed a touchline conversion with the final play at Twickenham today.
Trent dominated territory and possession in the early exchanges, but never did enough to put Exeter under any real pressure.
The deadlock was broken by Exeter after 12 minutes when full back Will Castleton returned a clearing kick with menace, offloading to scrum half Tom Hyam who chipped to the corner forcing Trent to take it out. From the resulting lineout Trent were penalised, and flanker Ross Watts was driven over after Exeter kicked it out.
Exeter pushed their lead out to 8-0 with a Billy Searle penalty after repeated infringements by Trent, again resulting from the force that was the Exeter maul causing problems.
Trent had a chance to reduce the lead with a penalty from the restart, but full back Calland missed from about 30 metres out. They then had a big opportunity to score five minutes from the break but Calland was forced into touch.
Trent kept the pressure on and after a powerful charge from prop James Fish created a gap, lock James Benstead drove over to score from close range, leaving the Nottinghamshire school trailing Exeter 8-7 at half-time.
Exeter enjoyed a period of pressure inside the Trent twenty two early in the second half, and came away with another Searle penalty. However Trent struck back with a five-minute purple patch of their own, only theirs was more devastating as centre Ashley Britton scored in the corner to give Trent the lead for the first time in the match (12-11).
The try seemed to loosen the pressure valve for Trent as they began to move the ball with more fluidity. Wing Zach Gundry thenalmost went over in the corner only to be denied by scrambling Exeter defence.
With time running out it was Trent who were looking to deliver the killer blow rather than Exeter threatening to regain the lead. Trent full back Calland came agonisingly close on one occasion but was forced into touch. But Trent kept probing, and it was captain Ben Trembling who eventually put Exeter on the canvas showing great strength to dot down in the corner.
But Exeter got back to their feet, and with the final play of the game scored in the corner through replacement James Newman, leaving Searle with a touchline conversion to win the match. It was heartbreak for Exeter as the kick missed, and the Trent players flooded the pitch.
Exeter College captain Billy Searle reflected on the missed conversion: “I just tried to stay calm, keep my head down, put my foot through it. I hit it well but unfortunately it just didn’t go over.”
Trent College captain Ben Trembling added: “It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s something I’ve dreamed about my whole life, but I never thought it would actually happen.
“Even last night I thought we had a chance, but knew it would be hard, and when that final whistle blew it was just an incredible feeling.”
15. Gabriel Calland
14. Zach Gundry
13. Ashley Britton
12. Greg Fieldhouse
11. Lewis Seagrave
10. George Boden
9. Max Johnson
2. Alex Taylor
3. James Fish
4. James Benstead
5. Angus Low
6. Will Garland
7. Will Allman
8. Ben Trembling
Replacements: 16. Will Farmer, 17. Alistair McHugh, 18. Harry Wilkinson, 19. George Livesey, 20. Dan Van Helden, 21. Matt Brown, 22. Oliver Davidson
15. Will Castleton
14. Jake Smith
13. Callum Gill
12. Patrick Jarman
11. Zac Ponsford
10. Billy Searle
9. Tom Hyam
1. Matt Harris
2. George Gosling
3. Will Ellis
4. Brad Cooke
5. Adam Tregedeon
6. Ross Watts
7. Joe Burdon
8. Jack Rouse