Oakham School rugby sensation Tyrese Johnson-Fisher scored another hat-trick of tries in the Natwest Schools U15s Cup Vase final at Twickenham on Wednesday but it was not enough to claim victory.
Despite the heroic efforts of the Oakham School captain they lost 24-34 to a superb Sherborne School side in a thrilling non-stop contest which saw 10 tries scored.
Johnson-Fisher crossed the line three times, and used his now famous pace to get back and save at least as many scores with cover tackles. But his opposite number, the Sherbourne captain Nick Jonas had the final say, scoring the final try to seal the win and complete his own hat-trick.
Oakham School director of rugby Ian Smith said: “This team have come from nowhere to somewhere. They have worked incredibly hard, they have improved game by game and today I think that everybody who watched the game will understand that Sherborne were deserved winners.
“We had players who broke gain lines, scored a few tries, we created more opportunities than sadly we were able to take but all credit to Sherborne that was some performance, their control, their organisation and their awareness made them worthy winners today.
“It’s hard for all of them being on the losing side given the way they have been improving and playing.
“There are a couple of guys who are particularly disappointed because of a missed tackle here and a mistake there. But as I said to them, what they have achieved is something extra special.
“As 15 year-old boys to come to Twickenham and have the opportunity to do what they have done is fantastic.”
Sherborne led 17-12 at half-time and gained too much possession in the second half to fend off Oakham’s challenge and to post a win by six tries to four.
The first half had brought five tries amid some terrific rugby. Oakham sprinted into the lead via Johnson-Fisher who scored his first try in the fifth minute following a break by full-back Tom Perkins.
Sherborne had a greater share of territory and made their possession count to quickly overhaul Oakham through tries by Jonas and number eight Felix Carey. Dom Prest, the fly half, added one conversion to put the Dorset school 12-5 up.
Oakham kept up the helter-skelter contest by levelling in the 20th minute when Johnson-Fisher latched onto a break from centre Huw Davies to score on the left.
Seb Davies, the fly half, converted to make the score 12-12 only for Sherborne to regain the lead six minutes later when Rupert Chetwode finished off some further pressure to score on the right.
Sherborne led 17-12 at the interval but were soon trying to stop Johnson-Fisher once more. This time the centre burst clear 20 metres out to score his third try which Seb Davies converted.
That conversion put Oakham 19-17 up but Sherborne’s greater cohesion won through in the next 10 minutes when lock George Sutton scored after a series of pick and goes to be followed by Jonas scoring his second after a jinking run.
However, Oakham were not finished. Despite being 19-29 down, they forged a further try which was, perhaps, the best of the match, flanker Archie Sumner running from near halfway to score.
That cut Sherborne’s lead to 29-24 but Jonas managed to wriggle clear for a third try with two minutes left.
Oakham: Ben Boulton-Smith; James Hammond, Tyrese Johnson-Fisher (capt), Huw Davies, Benjamin O’Boyle; Seb Davies, Jack van Poortvliet; Oluwatoyosi Afolabi, Albert Grieve, Ilya Durnetsov, George Figgis, Cameron Jordan, Oscar Hoult, Archie Sumner, Luccas Lovatt.
Replacements: Thomas West,Rory Peck, Oliver Liddar, Alfie Ramsay, Andrew Jones, Freddie Reynolds, Matthew Schofield.
Sherborne: Tom Perkins; Rupert Chetwode, Nick Jones (capt), Patrick Reynolds, Doug Hickling; Dom Prest, Barney Humphrey; William Bailey, Finian McLoughlin, Felix Storer, George Sutton, Hugo Pralle, Tom de Wesselow, Peter Folkes, Felix Carey.
Replacements: Ben Rainbow, Ben Childerley, Johnny Page, Tom Lane, James Dixon, Guy Deverell, Harry Taylor.
Referee: Luke Haskins.