Cuppers Rugby: Dogged Churchill Succumb to Jesus
League of Shame surprise package Churchill unable to roll over Jesus in Cuppers Semi
Jesus 17 – Churchill 5
A bleary-eyed Jesus were made to fight for every inch by a formidable Churchill outfit in the second of this year’s Cuppers semi-finals.
The effects of playing two matches in as many days and a heavy night weighed heavily on the stuttering Jesus team who were matched in nearly every department by their League of Shame opponents.
Churchill started the match with gusto. Cheered on by a raucous home crowd, complete with mascot and drums, the Churchill pack boshed their way into the Jesus 22 via a series a of meaty line-out drives. However, just as Churchill looked to set up camp in the Jesus 22, the Jesuan lineout slipped into gear and stole ball against the head.
The Jesus pack then sought to set up the kind of platform their backs had enjoyed in the quarter-final against Queens’. However, the feisty Churchill forwards, led from the front by 21s player Scott Jagger, counter-rucked with real aggression and continually spoilt Jesus possession. It would be fair to say that the Churchill forwards were a far more enterprising outfit than many Division 1 packs.
Given their inability to make real ground against the determined Churchill defence Jesus were forced to settle for three with a drop goal kicked by fly-half Tambara.
Churchill had the lion’s share of possession for the remainder of the first forty. Their pack dominated the play and despite not showing any real imagination they made serious yards as the forwards forced their way deep into the Jesus 22. After a period of energy-sapping pick and drives on the Jesus 5m line the Jesuan defence finally gave way and Churchill smashed their way in for a deserved score. The conversion was skewed wide.
The Churchill pack almost scored their side’s second on the stroke of half-time but the Jesus defence repelled numerous drives and the sides went into the break at 5-3 to Churchill.
With the wind at their backs the Jesus forwards put their noses to the grindstone in the second half. Every ruck was still a hotly contested affair but for the opening period of the half the Jesuan pack was able to assert some control at the breakdown. After 15 minutes of continued pressure and good rucking Rob “Uni Socks” Stevens was able to latch onto a Miles “Depth” Daly pass to burst through the Churchill defences for his zillionth try of the season.
True to their college’s name, the Churchill boys were not going to go down without a fight. Their pack ensured no breakdown was a forgone conclusion and their backs ran with intent. Given the finely balanced nature of the match refereeing of the highest quality was required. Unfortunately, this was not the case and as some supporters observed, “The ref’s a gimp … definitely come straight from the Cavendish.”
Both sides suffered as a result of questionable reffing decisions. Jesus no 8 Jamie “Bondi” Miller was sin-binned for not being 10 at a penalty despite being more than 11m away from the mark and the Jesus pack were denied what looked a certain try off the back of a maul.
As it was Churchill suffered the most from unorthodox officialdom. After a heroic defensive stand on their own line with only 14 men Jesus forced their way into the Churchill half. The ball was shipped again to Stevens who set off down the touch line. On beating the final man Churchill supporters screamed for a foot in touch. To their disappointment the lack of a touch judge allowed the ref to award the try to Jesus. The conversion was the final nail in Churchill’s coffin putting Jesus ahead by more than a converted score.
The match ended 17-5 and Jesus will now face St John’s in their first Cuppers final for several years.
See The Tab’s photos from the game here.
Thanks to ‘Deepthroat’ for their help in the composition of this report.