St. Johns have put 1st Division rivals Jesus firmly in their place. (Match Report)
St John’s are celebrating a resounding 36-3 victory against Jesus in the first crunch match of the rugby season. Despite a promising start, an injury-hit Jesus had no answer to the Red Boys’ powerful forward play and made the home team’s job easier with a string of defensive errors.
The Red Boys, as St John’s team are known, have won the Division 1 title for the past 9 years, and today’s victory over last year’s closest challengers Jesus does nothing to indicate a shift in the balance of power.
It was Jesus who began more brightly, Ian Childs slotting over a short-range penalty to put the visitors 3 points up within five minutes.
But the size and organisation of Johns’ soon allowed them to dominate the game. After pushing Jesus back twenty yards in a maul, Richard Lum crossed to score his team’s first try. Aaron Sonenfeld was unable to convert.
After that the match settled into what would be a familiar pattern. Jesus backs running the ball well but let down by the supply of it; Johns’ forwards pushing the visitors back again through their vast superiority at the contact area and getting the better of Jesus at set pieces.
After Jesus prop Ben King was sin-binned for a punch, Johns’ scoring began in earnest. Mathonwy Thomas rounded off a dominant forwards push by crossing for the Red Boys’ second try of the game, duly converted by Sonenfeld. ‘We can do this all day lads’ one of them shouted. He wasn’t wrong.
Despite some big hits from Jesus’ Ssegawa -Ssekintu and John Cross the die was cast for the game, and a third St Johns try soon followed after 35 minutes. Only a saving tackle from Ian Childs on the line kept the score at a recoverable 19-3 at the break.
For 20 minutes after the break Jesus competed well without ever seriously threatening a comeback. But the resistance did not last. Johns soon reasserted their grip on the game, the impressive Andrew Barrett standing out in a pack willing to play a patient game of strong scrums and ever-advancing mauls.
Jesus captain Miles Daley breaks forward
The tries soon followed. The Red Boys supremacy at the break-down opened up holes in the defence and allowed Johns to cross twice more in a matter of minutes. Every wave of attack from the home team looked likely to go over as Jesus’ depleted team struggled for replacements. Ben Wilson’s final minute try was the seal on a dominant display, the final score at 36-3.
Jesus must now hope that Downing can take points from the Red Boys before the two rivals clash again later in the season. For now though, at the first staging post in this year’s battle for rugby honours, John’s have laid down a considerable marker of intent.