All-London final for U15 Cup, Maidstone favourites for Vase

Last updated at 12:07 07 March 2005

Prepare for All Saints Day at Twickenham in the Daily Mail U15 Cup Final on March 23. Remarkably, from 476 starters the length and breadth of England, it will come down to two schools five miles apart in west London.

St Paul's, Barnes brought the curtain down on Wellingborough's stirring run by beating them 21-0 at Castlecroft on Saturday while St Benedict's, Ealing, although betraying big-game nerves, had too much firepower for St Peter's, York winning 19-11.

The fates were so cruel to Wellingborough, who had arrived with some impressive scalps. The game had hardly begun when fly half Jack Chopping broke his right leg making his first pass in the sticky conditions.

Within a minute of their playmaker and kicker disappearing to hospital on a stretcher, Wellingborough were opened up by St Paul's centre William East. Two more well-crafted tries and scored by winger Douglas Dick almost finished them off by half time.

But Wellingborough, rallying behind all-action No 8 Robert Milligan, refused to lie down.

St Paul's were never in danger but Wellingborough's determination to go down fighting also cost them Alex Waller, Milligan's able lieutenant at flanker, with a back injury and centre Oliver Storey with knee ligament damage. A heartbreaking end to one of the Cup's fairy tales.

There was the sad tale of another fly half in the other semi-final. St Peter's started brightly in no small way thanks to Jonny Bairstow, son of former Yorkshire and England wicketkeeper David Bairstow.

He chipped through for winger James McTurk to touch down only to be denied by a touch judge's flag. But when he slotted a penalty to put St Peter's ahead, he tore a groin muscle in the process!

Bairstow limped off just after half time and scrum half Edmund Pang had also given up the struggle with a knee injury. By this time, St Benedict's led 7-6 and were gradually wearing down St Peter's despite some heroic defence.

St Benedict's backs had sparkled in the quarter-final win over Millfield but they were indebted to their forwards on this occasion. Rowan Halsall, Arthur Ellis and Pierre Cameron carved out acres of territory and two tries by centre Adam Cole did the rest.

It will be an interesting few weeks before the final for many of the Saints know each other well from playing for Middlesex. Not least, St Benedict's hooker Ellis and St Paul's try scorer East who live next to each other in Ealing.

Maidstone favourites for Vase

Maidstone Grammar School will go into the Vase final as slight favourites, if only for the devastating finishing of winger Nik van Mol. He raced in for four tries in the 39-17 defeat of a spirited Millthorpe team from York.

They face Oakham, who left the best until last in the 18-0 defeat of Aylesbury when they stole the ball on halfway and eventually sent No8 Oliver Wolfe in for his second try.

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