Agony and ecstacy for St Joseph’s College

ST JOSEPH’S College Under-18s have moved to within two wins of a Twickenham final after a dramatic victory in the Daily Mail RBS Cup.

But the celebrations were a little bitter-sweet just 24 hours later after the Under-15s were unable to match their older counterparts – losing with the final kick of the game of their own last-16 match.

It was a case of great triumph for the Under-18s side on Wednesday afternoon as Alex Day started his 2011 as he ended the last year with two tries in the final six minutes to rescue the game against Hampton School in London.

And while it was a little tinged with the cruel manner of the younger side’s exit, Day and his team mates have made it through to the quarter-final of the prestigious competition for the first time in almost 20 years.

The nature of their win, coming back from 12-7 behind with just minutes on the clock, proves St Joseph’s have the mental toughness to go with their undoubted skill and it is hard not to start dreaming of a final at the home of rugby with the quarter-final played next month.

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Mark Patterson, director of sport at St Joseph’s, was understandably left with mixed emotions following a rollercoaster 24 hours.

But he insisted: “If you had offered me both teams getting to the last 16 and one in the quarter-final, I would have bitten your hand off.

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“Both games were emotionally draining but I think both were a credit to school rugby. We had the rub of the green in the Under-18s match but we didn’t have it for the Under-15s who were outstanding.”

After the success of the National Schools’ Rugby Festival, Patterson had targeted a quarter-final berth for his older lads – and they fulfilled that wish even if it went right to the wire.

Once again, Day was the hero suggesting his personal hopes for the year ahead, one of which was cup success, could come true.

After Gabriel Carroll’s early try was wiped out by two from Hampton School either side of the break, St Joseph’s found themselves 12-7 down with six minutes left. Before Day picked the pocket of his opposite scrum-half twice to go over and win the game, Patterson admitted he feared the worst.

He said: “It was a case of deja vu for me. We played Millfield last year in the national sevens and threw the kitchen sink at them, but they defended magnificently and won. I did wonder if it was not going to be our day.”

If the older match was a nail-biter, the younger boys went exactly the same way as St Joseph’s and Purley-based John Fisher School went toe-to-toe for a last-eight spot.

The tone was set within a few minutes of the start with both sides scoring converted tries before St Joseph’s upped their game to lead 12-7 at the break.

As their older compatriots watched on, a tense and tight second half unfolded.

John Fisher took the lead for the first time with a converted try before it looked like it would be a home victory after a penalty, following an almighty battle on the away try-line, and then an unconverted try for the red and whites.

But with fantastic double triumph in sight, John Fisher went over next to the posts, leaving a simple conversion to break the hearts of the young players.

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