The final is scheduled for the 28th March at Twickenham and this win makes this year’s squad the highest achieving since the AASE programme began in 2006.
The game started in near perfect conditions with both teams showing a desire to move the ball around and use the full width of the pitch. Both teams showed some early nerves, typical for a semi final but first blood went to Henley College through a penalty by George Eastwell after some fine attacking play and strong defence by the Prince Henry’s.
Prince Henry’s bounced back quickly after a multi phased passage of play ended with a touch down out wide left, making the score 3-5. Clearly there were two well matched teams who both liked to play fast and ambitious rugby. The next score followed quickly with Liam O’Neil scoring in the right hand corner after some very controlled approach work. O’Neil then finished off the best move of the match taking a well weighted inside pass from fly half Eastwell to race under the post with the conversion from Eastwell stretching the lead to 15-5.
Prince Henry’s continue to move the ball around and strong defence was required and delivered by the College. Conor Morrison then made an outstanding hit on a short ruck ball carrier, driving them back metres followed by a quick return to his feet and an outstanding steal which led to a penalty. This took Henley College down into the opposition 22 and after some excellent approach work Greg Brayley wriggled free from tacklers and stretched over the line for a third Henley College try making it 20-5 at the half time whistle.
The second half started in much the same fashion, with high pace and ambition from both teams. However Henley had a sniff of the finish line and moved to a pragmatic approach, opting for penalties as opposed to quick taps – there are no bonus points up for grabs in these games! Eastwell increased the led by another three with an early penalty followed by increasing endeavour both teams. Prince Henry’s bounced back with a converted try followed by another Eastwell penalty. 26-12.
Clearly the pace was beginning to tell with both teams making line breaks through the increasingly desperate defence. Controlling the ball at the breakdown and scrum was also an issue on the ever firming ground – precision was needed and Eastwell duly obliged with two further penalties to counter a further Prince Henry unconverted try in the corner.
The Twickenham final is a richly deserved reward for an outstanding group of players and a great way to complete the transfer of the AASE programme from Twyford High School to Henley College. The final will be against either Hartpury College or St Pauls College.
London Wasps Academy Manager Rob Smith said: “Many thanks to all the supporters, parents and friends that came along to support the team and the game itself. I hope you all enjoyed the day and your support was very much appreciated.”
Wasps AASE: Ollie Foster, Liam O’Neil, Lewys Weaver, Jono Woodward, Greg Brayley, George Eastwell, Jack Daly, Craig Parker, Ryan Kirby (C), Tom Rowlands, Bradley Scharff, Kia George, Samir Karbouch, Conor Morrison, Oscar Hirsky Douglas. Subs: Tyrone Brown, Tom Mawle, Ryan Smith, Harry McCartney, Alec Harrison, Dan Barnes, Kieran Duffin.
Thanks to Rob Smith and Paul Holmes for report and images