Bedford School secured their place at the Champions Trophy final with a stunning comeback against Sedbergh School to secure a 27-24 victory in Cumbria.
In distinctly autumnal conditions, with puddles on the pitch, howling wind and rapidly fading light, the handling was outstanding and the commitment bone-crunching from both sides.
Bedford School had looked on top in the first half, with their back row of Simon Beal, Charlie Clarke, and, in particular, Jake Carter at number 8 getting through an incredible amount of work
However, it was Sedbergh who went in with a 14-8 half-time lead after Bedford had taken an early advantage via an Oli Burgess penalty.
Carter put the away side back in fronafter a magnificent break from Faysal Olabooye, who released Shay Boyd, who in turn offloaded to Carter to stretch over and score for an 8-7 lead.
The tit for tat nature of the game looked set to continue in the second half as within seconds Bedford winger Tune Adewale nabbed an interception and raced away to put his side back in front by a point.
However, Sedbergh piled on the pressure over the next 15 minutes or so to take a 24-15 advantage into the final stages of the game.
Unsurprisingly, given the conditions, the game became scrappier – but it did not worry Bedford, who were starting to eke out an advantage territorially.
The decisive moment came in the 57 minute. Dalton rejected a kickable penalty on the Sedbergh 22, right in front of the posts, instead tapping and firing the ball wide. Two phases later, on the left hand side of the field, substitute Strachan went crashing over for the try.
With eight minutes remaining, Bedford were again awarded a penalty, and opted to head to the corner. Sedbergh controlled the drive well though so Bedford had to break away and run through the phases.
What that did though was stretch the defence, and spotting that, Bedford fired the ball out with a couple of passes, allowing Dingwall to squeeze over from short range just next to the posts.
It left Dingwall with a simple conversion, and finally gave Bedford the lead again at 27-24 which they defended bravely to secure the win.