Stonyhurst College continued their prolific run in sevens competitions this season by lifting the national schools' title at Rosslyn Park yesterday with a 29-10 win over Glantaf.
Stonyhurst, the old school of the England player, Kyran Bracken, arrived at the world's largest sevens competition with six wins out of six this season, and duly made it seven with the former England schools full-back, Iain Balshaw, taking a leading role.
Balshaw, who scored 16 times in the competition, struck twice in the final as his side surged into a 29-0 lead. The speedy winger, Dipo Alli, started the scoreboard moving for Stonyhurst, winners in 1949, in this year's final with a length-of-the-field run, in treacherous conditions.
Tough tackling from Glantaf, who hammered Will Carling's old school, Sedbergh, in the semi-finals, held Stonyhurst off until Balshaw struck. Chipping ahead from half-way, Balshaw sent his side into a 12-0 lead that they never looked like losing. Anthony Rodgerson followed Balshaw over, this time from 60 yards. Glantaf struck back with two late tries from Owen Jones and Michael Lord.
Stonyhurst's win was made all the more impressive by the presence of Steve Evans and Richard Crayford, who have played for Cardiff's first team this season, in the Glantaf side.
Stonyhurst only reached the final with a win in the dying seconds against Wimbledon, Mark Morris finishing a 60-yard move to seal a 21-15 victory. After Balshaw had given them the lead, an 80-yard burst from Alli put them 14-0 clear before Wimbledon fought back in vain.
Glantaf, who now head for a Welsh Schools Cup semi-final on Monday, reached the last four with a titanic quarter-final victory over Hawthorn.
Trailing 7-0, Glantaf battled back with tries from Andrew McDonagh, Lord and Crayford to take the match 17-7.
Shell yesterday confirmed that it would be backing the national sevens until the year 2000 with a pounds 160,000 sponsorship deal. The 1997 event should also have a fifth competition, with the introduction of an Under-16 schools/colts tournament.
ROSSLYN PARK NATIONAL SCHOOLS SEVENS: Sixth round (for Group winners): Bassaleg 22 St Olave's 10; Hymers 0 Wimbledon College 31; John Fisher 12 Hampton 31; Silcoates 10 Hawthorn 28; Gunnersbury 0 Stonyhurst 43; Millfield 19 Warwick 26; Pocklington 12 Sedbergh 33; Glantaf 24 Mount St Mary's 19. Quarter-finals: Bassaleg 5 Stonyhurst 24; Hampton 19 Sedbergh 29; Wimbledon College 29 Warwick 19; Hawthorn 7 Glantaf 17. Semi-finals: Stonyhurst 21 Wimbledon College 15; Sedbergh 5 Glantaf 31. Final: Stonyhurst 29 Glantaf 10.