Vase final should be a crowd to Oundle
Oundle are hoping a bumper crowd will cheer them a step closer to Twickenham on Saturday.
The Eagles welcome Ledbury to Occupation Road in the Midlands final of the RFU Senior Vase (3pm).
Coach Peter Croot has already steered his side to the Midlands Three East (South) championship and calls this weekend’s fixture “the biggest game in the club’s history.”
He said: “We have never been in a competition as big as this before and now we are only two wins away from Twickenham.
“Saad Sait played there when he was at university and the others want to be able to say the same.
“I might have to put myself on the bench if we get there and come on for the last minute or two !
“Seriously, it’s great to be at home. We’ve been advertising the game around town and we’re hoping for a big crowd.”
The RFU have confirmed that should Oundle win, they will also be at home in the national semi-finals on Saturday, April 9.
The Eagles have won their last 11 matches in all competitions and according to Croot, they have the big-match mentality to take another step closer to Twickenham.
“We know we have the talent,” said Croot. “It’s up to them to perform.
“The occasion can get to players, but so far this season, they have treated big games like any other game and just done their job.
“We know Ledbury are a well-balanced side who will be hard to break down.
“We played them once about 20 years ago and they beat us, so I suppose that makes us the underdogs!
“We aren’t really thinking about who are the favourites or what Ledbury are like.
“We are just going to concentrate on what we’re going to do.”
Croot says Oundle should have “close to our strongest side out” and may stick with the team that last week collected a bonus-point win at Long Buckby.
The scores were tied at 13-13 at the break and Oundle pulled away to win 33-19.
There was a penalty try and further scores for Grant Snelling and Robb Shingles, adding to a first-half try from Joe Sagoe.
Croot said: “The second half was very impressive.
“Everyone stuck to their job and we really snuffed them out.
“We probably had 70 per cent of possession, dominated the set piece and won all our scrums.
“The cup could have been a distraction, but regardless of the competition, we want to keep winning.
“The last two games between us and Long Buckby have been close, so to come away with a bonus-point victory is very pleasing.”
Derby-day honours went the way of Wellingborough as they edged a typically fractious contest with old rivals Kettering.
Yellow cards were in good supply – the last couple after a set-to towards the end of the match – but despite being down to 14 men for over a quarter of the game, Boro showed enough determination to claim the victory.
Kettering led 7-3 at the break thanks to Stephen Fraher’s try which was converted by Joe Daniel.
But battling Wellingborough were in no mood to give in.
Having lost their previous seven games they raised their levels for the Blues’ visit and three penalties from skipper Pete Vickers gave them a narrow success.
Rushden & Higham made it three Midlands Two East (South) wins in a row as they got the better of Peterborough 29-27 – although there may have been a few nerves late on.
They led 10-8 at half-time after Harry Owens kicked a penalty and then converted Chris Lee’s try.
The second period saw Rushden in the ascendancy as they aimed to move away from the bottom two.
Matt Ellson touched down twice and Owens got himself a try to put them 29-8 ahead.
Game in the bag? Not quite. Peterborough hit back with three tries of their own but, with one conversion missed, they came up two points short of their hosts.
In Midlands Three, Stewarts & Lloyds beat St Neots 29-17 and in Midlands Four Old Grammarians beat Thorney 33-5.