THE Claires Court School rugby sevens team headed to Maidenhead Rugby Club to contest the ISA National Under-16 competition.
The competition was structured in two pools with the top two teams from each competition progressing through to the semi-final.
For some of the Claires Court squad this was their first sevens rugby competition in a long time, so a relatively comfortable victory over St. James’ in the opening match was just what they needed to get everyone some early game time and the defensive and attacking patterns up and running.
Equally comfortable wins against Mark College and Rushmore School in the group and then a semi-final victory against Quinton House meant a second meeting with St. James’, who Claires Court had already beaten 29-5 in the opening game.
The final was an absolute classic with two contrasting styles going toe-to-toe. Claires Court’s direct, powerful attacking play and aggressive defence competing against a more patient, attractive and traditional brand of sevens rugby.
St James’ took an early lead but Claires Court drew level almost immediately and then took the lead on the stroke of half-time.
The second half appeared to be petering out without much chance to play but, after some poor decision making in defence, St James’ managed an equalising score.
As the second seven-minute half drew to a close it was a case of which of the two teams would be holding the lead when the referee called time on a thoroughly entertaining final.
Neither side relented and the score was locked at 12-12 when the final whistle blew, meaning three minutes of sudden death extra time.
With the advantage of kick-off, Claires Court were able to kick deep into St James’ half and then trust in their excellent defence not to let them out.
Eventually Claires Court’s defensive pressure told and, after turning the ball over, it was passed to Year 10 flyer Edward Cannon who was able to evade the despairing clutches of the final defender to score the golden try.
It handed Claires Court their third consecutive ISA National U16 title and their fifth in six years.