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Bloxham’s 1st VII Reach Semi-final at Rosslyn Park!

Rosslyn Park Semi-finalBloxham's 1st VII achieved their best result at Rosslyn Park in many years, winning their group and proceeding to the second day, where they won another two games to reach the semi-final stages of the Bowl competition.

On Wednesday, Bloxham breezed through their group, racking up impressive wins against St Dunstan's 57-0, Campion School 24-5, Cardinal Newman 36-5 and Wrekin College 36-5. This meant that they were bound to return for a second day, with the elimination match at the end of the day determining which competition they would play in. Bloxham found it hard to adjust to a highly competitive game after four convincing victories; a well-drilled Blundell's outfit won 42-12 to go through to the Vase, while Bloxham headed to the Bowl, still a strong competition featuring teams of the calibre of Marllborough, Bradford Grammar School and eventual champions Epsom College. The side played some excellent sevens on the first day, with Alfie B providing strong, direct running and Ollie K leading the side well, while Jake M filled the role of play-maker. The only down-side on the first day was the loss of Jonty R-R due to concussion.
On Thursday, Bloxham opened with an impressive 24-5 victory over an extremely physical Seaford side, with Alfie scoring a brace of tries, but lost George M to a shoulder injury. The Quarter Finals are played in a group of three, so the team also had to win their next game, against the Perse, to go through. Up by only two points at half-time, Bloxham scored further tries through Sam B and Sam J, who was in inspired form in this match, to secure a 24-10 victory and qualify for the semi-final stages, which were to be played in two groups of three teams.
By now the exertions of the last two days were starting to catch up with the depleted Bloxham squad, who were up against two strong sides who looked noticeably fresher. In both games, Bloxham were well beaten (31-12 and 26-7), but against Stockport Grammar Alfie scored two good tries to bring Bloxham back into the game, and against Wallington County Grammar, Jack R scored one of the best tries of the two days, from a lovely pass from Ollie K.
Alfie B finished as the top scorer with twelve tries, with Ollie scoring six, while Jake M kicked most of the conversions. The Bloxham boys could be proud of their efforts, and with their achievement in getting to the semi-final of a national competition. This was a great way for the seven Upper Sixth formers to cap their outstanding contribution to Bloxham rugby, while the five younger squad members all learned valuable lessons for the future, as did the Colts VII, who showed improvement in their group matches earlier in the week, suffering two narrow defeats against Welsh schools and being well beaten by a strong Warwick side before playing some nice sevens in their final game to beat a side from Bristol 33-7.
Mr Goldsmith and I are very grateful to all those who provided invaluable support, including a loyal contingent of parents on all three days, as well as Miss Odlin, Mr Richmond and Mr Beavis. Above all, coaches and players owe a great debt of gratitude to the school doctor, Stephen Haynes, who gave up two days to act as the team medic, the second of them at a moment's notice when we got through to the second day, and provided invaluable assistance, patching up players and supplying sprays, potions and energy drinks.

1st VII Squad: O. Kilgallon, J. Robotham, T. Hathaway, S. Jeyes, G. Morley, J. Russell-Rayment, J. Manning, F. Betteridge, S. Boswell, E. Edet, A. Barbeary, J. Maw.

Colts VII Squad: T. Staveley Parker, J. Kentigern-Fox, J. Hand, H. Hopkins, A. MacColl, J. Graham, O. Betteridge, J. Craven, B. Stapleton, H. Stapleton, F. Symons, E. Fitzgibbons.

Report by Simon Batten