Speed can win you rugby games - and never was that more true than yesterday (Sunday) when Oakham School centre Tyrese Johnson-Fisher produced a spectacular display of finishing to take his side to their first NatWest Schools Under-15 final in 10 years.
Johnson-Fisher set a new National Schools Championship 100 metres record in Birmingham last summer and proved too fast for Bishop Wordsworth’s School as he ran in four tries, including a first half hat-trick in his side’s 47-27 victory at Saracen’s Allianz Park.
Oakham will now meet Sherborne School in the NatWest Schools Under 15 Vase final at Twickenham Stadium on March 25.
Johnson-Fisher, Oakham’s captain, completely outpaced the defence with an arcing run for his opening try after just three minutes and then accelerated away for his second after full-back Ben Boulton-Smith had carved open the defence.
The hat-trick try came on the stroke of half-time when Johnson-Fisher bounced off an intended tackle from Bishop Wordsworth’s wing Charlie Davies and then purred away for the try.
Johnson-Fisher’s fourth try was the best of the lot as he attacked from his own 22, bat the cover defence on an arcing run and left tacklers trailing his wake on another breath-taking spring to the line.
Bishop Wordsworth’s had recovered well from their early battering and pulled back to 19-15 before Johnson-Fisher completed his hat-trick.
Full-back Joe Tully crossed in the corner and scrum-half Tom McFarland wriggled over from close range in quick succession but Bishop Wordsworth’s had no answers in defence to the pace and power of Johnson-Fisher.
Oakham lock George Figgis broke Johnson-Fisher’s scoring sequence when he snaffled a defensive line out from Bishop Wordsworth and crashed over for his side’s second.
Bishop Wordsworth’s starved Oakham of possession at the start of the second half and produced some enterprising rugby of their own with number eight Tom Boxer and centre Paddy Case to the fore.
Their pressure was rewarded when left wing Daniel Mitchell crossed for an unconverted try but another chance was missed when Bishop Wordsworth’s knocked on close to the line.
It proved a costly lapse as Johnson-Fisher scored his stunning fourth and then turned provider with a scoring pass for replacement wing Ben O’Boyle who scooted over for Oakham’s sixth try to which fly-half Seb Davies added his fifth conversion.
Boxer’s efforts were rewarded with a late consolation try for Bishop Wordsworth’s but Oakham were not finished and Huw Davies, Johnson-Fisher’s centre partner, broke away for their seventh try.
Oakham School’s director of rugby Ian Smith said: “Tyrese has the ability to score from anywhere, he is a very powerful runner, he’s still learning the game but he gets better every time we see him play.
“We saw him create opportunities for other members of the team. Once or twice they took them, three or four times they didn’t.
“As well as we played at times, defensively we were a little bit adrift and we allowed them to score too many points,”
“The scoreline in some ways flatters us but in others it shows the potential that this side has. If they play as well as they can they can look forward to a great day out at Twickenham.”
Terry Gilmour, Bishop Wordsworth’s director of rugby said: “One fellow was quite fast and we didn’t close him down as quickly as we wanted to.
Oakham School. Ben Boulton-Smith; James Hammond, Tyrese Johnson-Fisher (captain), Huw Davies, Matthew Schofield; Seb Davies, Jack van Poortvliet, Oluwatoyosi, Albert Grieve, Ilya Durnetsov, George Figgis, Cameron Jordan, Thomas West, Archie Sumner, Luccas Lovatt. Replacements: Alfie Ramsay, Andrew Jones, Will Stables, Ben O’Boyle, Oliver Liddar, Freddie Reynolds, Rory Peck.
Scorers. T: Johnson-Fisher (4), Figgis, O’Boyle, Davies. C: Davies 5
Bishop Wordsworth’s. Joe Tully; Charlie Davis, Paddy Case, Guy Hale (captain), Daniel Mitchell; Harry Norris, Tom McFarland; Marcus Shanley, Ben Goldsmith, James McDonald, Daniel Pereira, Luke Sainsbury, James Kennedy, Ed Shanley, Tom Boxer. Replacements: Max Hetreed, James Brown, Josh Cox, Tom Allman, James Robson, Adam Mercer.
Scorers.T: Tully, McFarland, Mitchell, Boxer. C: Norris 3. P: Norris
Referee: Mr Andrew McNeaney