Wellington look to put right the wrongs


Last updated at 08:20 05 March 2007

Wellington College have had more than their fair share of heartache in the Daily Mail Cups.

Their U15s lost three finals before finally claiming the trophy in 2000. Then, last year they had teams in both U18 and U15 semi-finals and lost them both.

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Coming a close second to an unbeaten QEGS Wakefield team in the U15s was not too bad but the 1st XV let a lead slip against Durham, the game ended in a 21-21 draw and the Berkshire school lost agonisingly on a 3-2 try count.

Remarkably, Wellington have two teams in the semi-finals again and 1st XV skipper Mark Douglas returns to Castlecroft tomorrow determined the prize will not elude them again.

"The experience is burned in my memory," said the team's kicker and full back.

"We could hear our supporters singing about going to Twickenham, then the game began to slip away and there was nothing we could do about it."

Wellington have a young but powerful side –Douglas is one of only five survivors from last season – but as fate would have it, they come up against another side from Durham in Barnard Castle, who are gunning for the Cup again after losing the 2003 and 2004 finals.

They have lost just once this season to Sedbergh, like most teams, and are probably a better all-round side than on their last visit when they were inspired by England's Mathew Tait.

"We know they will be our toughest opponents," said Douglas. "We played good rugby in the early rounds but had a big wake-up call in the quarter-finals when we struggled to beat KCS Wimbledon.

"We owe it to ourselves and all our supporters to produce a big performance and there has been real intensity in training."

Teams are always looking to find that extra little edge for the big game and St Benedict's, Ealing have called on former All Black Craig Dowd to fine tune their forwards ahead of the other semi-final against Warwick.

St Benedict's have close links with Wasps and Dowd has children at the school.

And St Benedict's have a massive incentive to reach Twickenham. The side is based on the 2005 U15 Cup winners and there are only a handful of Bradford Grammar players from the early 1990s who have done the double.

Warwick, a school where rugby is booming, are happy as underdogs but St Benedict's will take them lightly at their peril.

They have lost just one game – to Sedbergh – won all their ties away from home, except the quarter-final and then made the most of home advantage by knocking out the holders St Peter's, Gloucester.

SATURDAY: Daily Mail U18 Cup – semi-finals (Castlecroft Stadium, Wolverhampton): Warwick v St Benedict's, Ealing (11am); Barnard Castle v Wellington College (1pm).

SUNDAY: Daily Mail U18 Vase –semi-finals (same venue): Langley Park, Beckenham v Ermysted’s GS, Skipton (11am); Truro School v Wilmslow HS (1pm).

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