Jesus Down John’s To End Unbeaten Run

John’s five year unbeaten run is finally over after Jesus defeated them 21-10 in front of a delirious crowd. Full report and exclusive match photos here.

college rugby jamie miller jesus rugby john's rugby redboys Rugby tim sherrington

John’s 10 – 21 Jesus

John’s five year unbeaten run is finally over after Jesus defeated them 21-10 in front of a delirious crowd.

The result is the first time John’s have lost in the league since they were beaten by Pembroke in 2006, and therefore ends one of the most impressive sporting records in Cambridge.

Jesus put in a gritty and dogged performance in one of the most eagerly-anticipated and controversial games college rugby has ever seen.

The match was filled with errors and ill-discipline from both sides, but a large and vocal crowd were treated to a compelling game between two bitter rivals.

Jesus centre Russell Rammage. Click to enlarge. More photos by Tim Sherrington here.

Jesus began the game strongly, with Tambara’s kicking and some fierce rucking pinning John’s in their own 22.

Penalties were conceded, and after one narrow miss, Tambara made no mistake from the second to give Jesus an early lead.

There was no let-up in pressure, as the Jesus pack, to cries of “fuck him up” from the sidelines, forced another indiscretion from John’s and Tambara duly slotted the penalty over to leave the score at 0-6.

John’s response was strong, surging into the Jesus 22 and remaining there, playing the type of tight, powerful rugby that has brought them so much success. Jesus creaked, but resisted well, before a penalty saw John’s settle for 3 points.

John’s slot their first points away. Click to enlarge. More photos by Tim Sherrington here.

At 6-3 the match began to heat up, with scuffles breaking out all over the field amid accusations of biting and stamping at the breakdown.

It reached a climax as Jesus captain Jamie Miller found his face rearranged by an opponent’s studs. Thowls of “send the cunt off” from the Jesus fans, decided only a sin-binning was required.

Miller got himself stitched up and charged back into battle. The penalty kick was missed by Tambara, but a knock-on by John’s kept the pressure on.

Mulderig opted to go down the blind-side from the scrum, releasing Tambara, who powered through two tackles to touch down in the corner. Although the conversion was missed, Jesus had opened an imposing eight point lead.

The home crowd look on as Jesus score. More photos by Tim Sherrington here.

The remainder of play to half-time was marred by handling errors from both sides, and both teams went into their huddles aware of the importance of the next 40 minutes in the context of the whole season.

It was Jesus who began the second half strongly, winning a penalty and placing John’s under pressure on their own line. However, the tenacity of their defence at the breakdown, something that told increasingly as the match wore on, saw them win a penalty and clear their lines.

To the echoing cries of their increasingly desparate fans, John’s powered upfield, playing simple rugby and slowly building momentum.

Jesus found themselves overwhelmed by the power of their opponents, and penalties were conceded. The inevitable try eventually came, as another pick-and-drive move saw the Red Boys power over for the try. A superb conversion left the match tantalisingly poised at 11-10.

John’s celebrate their only try. More photos by Tim Sherrington here.

Jesus were clearly rattled, and errors crept into their play. Tambara kicked the ball straight out from outside his own 22, and the ball was frequently dropped by nervous backs.

John’s sensed this weakness and upped their own game; Robert Wells leading the pack upfield with a series of powerful drives. John’s found themselves continually undone however by their full-back’s inability to kick tactically and apply pressure, and the Jesus back three were able gain the upper hand, releasing the pressure the John’s forwards had built up.

With little over 10 minutes to go, Jesus once again came back strongly, fighting their way into their opponents’ 22 and winning a scrum. After several powerful moves they inched over the line, only for the ball to be held up. The pressure told however, and a penalty saw Tambara grab the 3 points.

At 14-10, John’s knew they were far from out of it, and a couple of penalties saw them dangerously close to the Jesus line.

John’s win at the lineout. More photos by Tim Sherrington here.

Finally Jesus broke free, with Chris Blucke receiving another woeful kick from the Red Boys’ full-back and evading 3 John’s defenders to bring him close to the line. Jesus didn’t panic, and recycled the ball to unleash the backs, and sensing a gap, substitute Mike Stevens stepped inside and dived over the line.

Pandemonium broke out amongst the Jesus players and fans, and with only 4 minutes to go, John’s sensed the game was up.

Visibly deflated, sloppy handling from John’s saw a dropped ball and Blucke once more hared for the corner, only to lose control of the ball allowing John’s to hack the ball out of play.

The following scrum, with last play being called by the referee, saw one Jesus forward remark “You guys are easier than your girls“. The ball was knocked-on, but the final whistle sounded and the ecstatic Jesus fans hurtled onto the pitch.

Jesus fans invade the pitch at the final whistle. More photos by Tim Sherrington here.

It was by no means a vintage performance from either side, but both gave their all, and the victory was narrower than the 21-10 scoreline suggested.

John’s edged the contact area, but other than one powerful centre had nothing to offer in attack.

Both their full-back and fly-half kicked poorly, and were unable to provide the forwards with enough opportunities to attack at close range.

Jesus were at times scrappy and jittery in attack, but were stout in defence and clinical when within range of the John’s line. The margin was small, but Jesus won’t mind that on one of the finest days in their club’s history.

After the game, victorious Jesus skipper Jamie Miller told The Tab: “It’s a huge achievement, not just for the boys, but for all the guys who’ve finished on the wrong side of the scoreline against John’s in the past, and for everyone in the College.

“John’s are the Everest of college rugby – as we all saw today. But unlike some other colleges, Jesus has a great spirit about it, and that showed both on the pitch and on the sidelines today. It was telling that so many Old Boys came back to watch the match, and the pitch invasion at the end was just pure passion from everyone.

Mathonwy Thomas and his team applaud Jesus. More photos by Tim Sherrington here.

“The respect Johns showed at the end was exemplary – from their Blues and Captain on down. That’s the spirit in which college rugby should be played. Hats off to them. A class act.”

John’s captain Mathonwy Thomas said he was similarly proud of his men and the way they conducted themselves: “No-one gave up, everyone committed themselves fully and everyone showed exactly how much it means to pull on a shirt for the Red Boys.

“I think Jesus ended up on top because they were ultimately more clinical than we were. As I’ve said I’m proud of every player, and am not picking on anyone, but it was the small errors that made the difference out there today.

“Jesus played well, so credit to them for that, but we definitely had our chances to win today.”

Asked what the result means for the league, Thomas said he was still hopeful: “Of course we can still win. If (or when) we beat Jesus and if someone else draws or wins against them then its back to us. It would take a fool to write the Red Boys off after today.”

Miller echoed Thomas’ sentiment: “It’s early doors. There are six teams in this league – not two – and we still have to play Downing and Johns once more each. A lot can change over the course of the season, teams go in and out of form. It’s not over until the last day of the season.”


The other Division 1 results

Downing 0 – 5 Queens’

Trinity 0 – 31 Magdalene