Bloxham's 1st XV Secure Place in NatWest Vase Semi-final
Bloxham’s 1st XV advanced to the semi-finals of the NatWest Vase with a tense 16-13 win against Altrincham Grammar School for Boys in a well-matched encounter.
Playing on their home pitch in front of a big crowd, Bloxham understandably looked nervous and struggled to make their territorial advantage count for much of the game. The visitors took the lead early on through a penalty before Jake Manning drew the hosts level after sustained pressure in the Altrincham half. A second penalty gave Bloxham a three point lead at half time, but there was some concern that they had not capitalised on their try-scoring opportunities.
Early in the second half, a superb try by Man of the Match Will, following deft inter-passing between the two Georges, seemed to herald Bloxham gaining the upper hand, only for Altrincham to get back to a three point margin with a try in the corner following sloppy Bloxham defence. Once again Bloxham, thriving whenever they moved the ball wide, scored through George Grieve to stretch the lead, only for the visitors to hit back with another try after some powerful forward drives. With Bloxham only three points ahead, and the away team going through if the game was drawn and the number of tries level, the last ten minutes were extremely tense. However, Bloxham managed to hold their nerve and close out the game. This was an excellent game between two committed sides, though the home team will probably concede that under the pressure of the situation they slipped somewhat from their standards in the previous round.
The boys will need to step things up again for their semi-final match against Northampton School for Boys on Saturday 27th February at Allianz Park, the home of Saracens Rugby Club. The game begins at 11.00am and will be live streamed.
Thanks to Simon Grieve for his fantastic photos used to accompany this report.