Match Report – RFU Junior Vase Final – Twickenham – 5th May 2019

Reeds do the Treble – Surrey 1 Champions, RFU Junior Vase Regional & National Champions 2018-19 – with a clinical performance at Rugby’s HQ.

There cannot be many players in junior rugby who have run out on the hallowed turf at Twickenham, but Reeds Weybridge players earned that right last Sunday, having battled their way through seven rounds of Cup rugby against the best League One sides from the Home Counties and Gloucestershire. Unquestionably, the biggest game in the club’s history and they managed to field over a thousand supporters to cheer them on.

Thornensians, from Doncaster have had a brilliant season based on dominant forward play that has produced quality possession for their straight running backs.

It is a situation that Reeds have faced on several occasions in their Cup run, notably against Cryptians the Gloucester side in their semi-final clash, when against expectations it was the Reeds forwards who ended up running the show. It was that experience of facing up to the physical challenge of a town side that was at the heart of Reeds eventual victory in this final, coupled with a reliance on their ever present silky smooth back line play.

Up front Reeds have some serious grunt with Josh Brown, hooker George Corner, and Richard Philip generating some huge power that had the Yorkshire side in all sorts of trouble, denying them the ball going forward, it was a crucial element of the game.

Thornensians were at their best around the fringes driving the loose mauls and rucks with their big forwards causing Reeds some problems, and it needed some big hits from the Reeds back row to shut down the attacks. However, once that possession was shifted out wide it was the Surrey side that always looked dangerous, especially centre Tom McClean, he was the instigator and the scorer of Reeds first try, sidestepping his way through the defence to touch down close to the sticks, his outstanding performance earned him the Man of the Match Award.

That dominance which Reeds exercised out in the wide Twickenham spaces soon brought more points, it is quite a sight to see a big rugby winger in full flight and Reeds have Chris Stegmann who fits that bill, he has scored a bucketful of tries this year, he takes some stopping when the afterburners are on and he outpaced the Thornensians cover to touch down by the flag, Pete Davidge, Reeds No 10 was on deadly form, clinical with his place kicking, distribution and solid defence as well, leading to a fourteen point lead for Reeds with just a quarter of the game gone.

Reeds sensed that they had the upper hand out wide and they needed to get the possession away from the close quarter engagement and into the hands of their young backs who had serious pace and quick hands as well. None better at that than young James Botterill, he collected the ball in the midfield within the Thornensian twenty two, the defence thought they had him nailed but he burst clear of the tackle and following a gliding run was in near the posts.

Thornensians, three tries adrift were in trouble but they had even bigger problems when they lost their influential prop forward to the bin, and during that time Reeds proved deadly. Johnny Rogers, the full back, collected try No 4 when he outsprinted the cover to touch down right by the flag converted from way out by Pete Davidge.

But the killer and surely decisive blow came from the restart, big Herbie Finn collected the ball and set off on a mazy run, he found No 8 Alex Corner on hand to take a scoring pass and the No 8 won the race to the line. At the change round, five tries, all of them converted was a commanding lead.

After the restart, Thornensians knew they had to disrupt the quality possession to shut down Reeds attacks, they upped the physicality by driving into the loose rucks and mauls, it worked to a point producing more quality ball for the Thornensian backs but progress in the midfield wasn’t easy against a solid Reeds defence. Midway through that second half, Thornensians managed to float a ball away to their big winger Zac Holgate and he squeezed in by the corner flag for an unconverted try.

The Yorkshire side were on the way back but Reeds hadn’t given much away in the midfield and there was no way that Thornensians were going to redress that deficit. Late on Reeds really put the game beyond question when winger Dan Veale who had come on as a replacement launched an attack from just outside the twenty-two, he was checked just short of the line but young Joe Wastie was there to take a nicely weighted inside pass to touch down under the posts.

Six tries, all of them converted all scored by different Reeds players, with all twenty two squad members contributing to a great result. Running out on that Twickenham turf is one memory, but scoring a try as well will certainly last a lifetime.

And what a season for Reeds Weybridge, undefeated in every league game and winners of the RFU Junior Vase – played 26 won 26!

George Spinks
07860 394687

Playing Squad: Josh Brown, George Corner, Richie Philip, Herbie Finn, Simon Woollatt, Michael Wasko, Will Ambidge, Alex Corner, Ollie Palmer, Pete Davidge, Chris Stegmann, Billy Maddock (captain), Tom Mcclean, James Botterill, and Jonathan Rogers. Subs: Toby Blyther, Joe Wastie, Ollie Savill, Matt Connell, Joe Moriarty, Dan Veale and Kerran Beavis. Reserves: Douw Styger and Davin Samuel.