Lacklustre start no barrier for champs Repton
AFTER claiming a first Under-16 Schools Super 6s title, Repton School coach Martin Jones credited his players for recovering from a slow start to emerge as champions.
A hat-trick from Stuart Kentwell and a Mackey Newton goal gave their team a well-deserved 4-2 victory over 2016 champions and home favourites Whitgift School in Saturday’s final.
Things had not looked so rosy when they opened their campaign on Friday with a surprising 2-1 loss to Dean Close School, something Jones put down to rustiness given that the school term had started a few days before.
But wins over Ipswich, King Edward VI and Altrincham Grammar followed, lifting them to the top of Pool A and securing a semi-final encounter against Queen Elizabeth Grammar School (QEGS) Wakefield – which they won 4-3 on strokes.
“Queens played very well and they pushed us all the way. They had an under-14 goalkeeper who played excellently,” said the Olympian.
“We got really lucky in the penalty shootout but we played much better in the final.
“We had saved our best game until last and it showed in the fluency of our play.
“Stuart’s hat-trick could not have come at a better time. It’s a very happy time for the boys and everyone at Repton.”
The school won a first Under-18 title in 2016, but had only managed runners-up spots in the younger competition, in 2013 and 1996.
But Jones had faith in his players, even if they were slow off the mark.
“We had a little bit of a pre-season but we probably came into the tournament unprepared and that is maybe what led to us losing the first group game,” he added.
“However I believed we had a chance, as we do in these major tournaments where making a semi-final can open things up for us.
“We hoped that we would get through to the semi-final and then we would be in with a shout.
“But losing our first game meant we needed to do a little bit more homework on the teams to play next.”
Whitgift made the final after topping Pool B with wins over QEGS Wakefield, Trent College, Millfield and Bishop’s Stortford College and ended Dean Close’s campaign 4-0 in the semi-final.