Impressive Jesus Set Up John’s Showdown

Jesus beat Downing to stay top of the pile as their crunch match with John’s looms.

college rugby downing downing rugby jesus jesus rugby

Jesus remain triumphantly atop Division 1 this evening after a commanding 19-0 victory. Downing proved a stern test but were unable to score a single point against the league leaders.

In a rain-soaked match that was dominated by indiscipline and handling errors, it was the creativity of the Jesus backs and commitment of their pack that proved the difference. Downing, who drew with John’s last week, threatened on occasion but were unable to achieve parity in the contact area, whilst their backs lacked the speed and invention to consistently threaten the solid Jesus defence.

Jesus got the ideal start when a back row move off an uncontested scrum opened up space on the blind side for winger Oli Jones to run in for the score. Although the conversion was missed, Jesus had clearly signalled their intent.

Downing’s response was to play the 10-man rugby they demonstrated successfully against John’s, and they proved adept at this. Their forwards made good ground around the fringes and provided a solid platform for their fly-half. However, Jesus refused to budge, and defended with admirable commitment, earning several turnovers and clearing their lines whenever their try-line seemed threatened.

Jesus full-back Russell Rammage carries the ball forward. Photos by Katrina Hewitt. View more here.

Downing’s best chance in the first half came from a kick in behind the Jesus line. Whilst the Jesus full-back managed to mop up the ball, Downing had Jesus on the back foot and won a penalty. The kick at goal however sailed narrowly wide.

Jesus’ fly-half Kouj Tambara made no mistake with his penalty attempts, and kicked two before the half ended, increasing Jesus’ lead to 11-0 as an under pressure Downing pack were penalised repeatedly by the referee for a variety of infringements.

Jesus’ first half superiority was best characterized by an incident just before the break. A hand-off from the Jesuan open side left the Downing defender flat on his arse and was greeted with cries of “Sit Down.”

Whilst Downing had the lion’s share of possession in the opening period of the second half, they were unable to make use of it. Balls were knocked on or passes went astray at key points, thereby destroying the momentum that had been built up.

These missed opportunities took their toll on the Downing team and indiscipline cost them three points as Tambara kept up his unerring accuracy on penalty conversions.

Andy Gill attempts to break the Downing line for Jesus. Photos by Katrina Hewitt. View more here.

With the score at 14-0 and the clouds hovering ominously overhead you would have expected the Downing supporters to be a little downcast. Not so for one particular supporter, who can only be described as college rugby’s equivalent of Stan Collymore; a man given to moronic commentaries.

Stan also has very clear ideas about testicles. On hearing the Jesus captain scream from the bottom of a ruck “get your hand off my balls”, Stan commented, “if you learnt how to scrummage then you’d actually need them”. A Jesus player retorted, “If you went to this uni then we’d give a shit about what you said”.

Jesus’ second try was one of the few displays of back line flair during the game. After a Downing clearance kick failed to find touch, the Jesuan backs launched a counter-attack. The ball was shifted wide and recycled quickly, allowing Daniel “Mawwon” Marron to add 5 unconverted points.

Jesus’ lineout was their most obvious weakness against Downing. Photos by Katrina Hewitt. View more here.

The match ended as it had begun, with Jesus’ superior technique and execution in both attack and defence not allowing Downing to break through. A promising Downing move was halted by the tenacity of the pack at the breakdown, and Jesus clawed their way upfield, before Jones booted the ball triumphantly out of play to end a convincing performance.

Jesus captain, Jamie Miller, observed that “Downing’s play was about as imaginative as Stalinist theatre”. In truth however it was Jesus’ own pack’s dogged, determined play that achieved dominance throughout the match.

Particularly worrying for John’s, Jesus’ perceived weakness up front in previous seasons does not seem to be an issue this time around. The grunt of the pack will give Miller the most satisfaction as Jesus prepare to face fierce rivals John’s next week, who will be somewhat uneasy ahead of the division’s crucial clash.

Speaking after the match, the Downing captain Keith Shagyard told the Tab “it was just not our day … too many penalties and mistakes”. He added “Credit to Jesus, they were more up for it in the first 10 and they got the early points which was a big blow”.

Follow The Tab’s build-up to next week’s John’s-Jesus game.

Elsewhere in Division 1

John’s 17 – 5 Magdalene

Queens’ 6 – 3 Trinity

Additional slideshow by Graham Bates.