Jesus Scrape Past Downing
League leaders see off struggling rivals at home to maintain their place at the top.
Jesus 27 – Downing 19
Jesus remain unbeaten at the top of Division 1 this week after scraping past Downing at home. The visitors will be kicking themselves as they came achingly close to causing an upset in a game where every chance had to be taken.
The score line flatters Jesus who were often found wanting in almost every department by a Downing side much improved since the teams last met in week two. As has proven the case throughout the season, it was the pace and predatory instincts of the Jesuans in open play that proved the difference.
While JCRUFC came within inches of scoring during the first minutes of the game, it was the Downing boys that controlled the play. Even if their pack wasn’t the juggernaut that some have described, it proved a force to be reckoned with.
After securing lineout ball the visitors set up a maul in midfield that sucked in Jesus defenders and gained around 10 to 15 m. The Downing backs were quick to exploit the space created and their Captain Shagyard sliced through the Jesus backs with a well-judged line. Confronted with the full back a dummy ensured he scored a converted try under the posts.
The Jesus supporters were shaken but the home side soon rallied. An interception almost saw Nic Viljoen under the posts but a desperate tackle brought the South African down inches from the line. Jesus maintained the pressure and Dom “Kelvin” Macklin was put in the corner.
The home side launched their next attack immediately on receiving the kick off. An outrageous dummy and arcing run enabled captain Jamie Miller to pass the onrushing Downing players. The attack appeared to be at an end when he was faced with three covering defenders.
However, Miller heard the screams of prop-lite Ed Taylor and fed the ball to the onrushing Jesuan. A high tackle metres from the try line was rewarded with a penalty try.
Jesus’ total was increased to 20 after a penalty conversion and try by Chris Blucke that finished off a move that he had started in the home side’s 22.
Downing continued to threaten and turned the pressure up. Great vision from Steve Townend put Keith Hagyard through only to be brought down just short of the line. Jesus then soaked up a period of Downing pressure which eventually ended when Shagyard again saw his break stopped inches from the line by his opposite Jamie Miller. He was pinged for double movement and Jesus got out of trouble.
The visitors frustration showed in an altercation between their number 8 and the Ref. Perhaps querying why the referee based his decisions on “territory” the Downing player was told “Go on walk away then”.
The Jesuans were able to score another seven points before the half ended. A spilled ball was fly-hacked on by Blucke who gathered for his second score of the half.
The second half was a very different affair. Downing cut out the silly errors from which they had conceded and were much better at containing the ever dangerous Jesus back three.
Downing put in a solid spell of attacking rugby and spent a good 20 minutes in Jesus’ half but came away with nothing. Jesus had a small resurgence after this and pressured the Downing line only to be let down by handling errors.
Jesus were generally limited to kick and chases which, while often proving effective, was indicative of their lack of control over the match.
The visitors’ backs launched numerous forays into the Jesus 22 and were rewarded with a series of penalties. Downing opted for scrums and this proved a wise decision as they frequently had the Jesus pack reeling. Both of Downing’s second half tries stemmed from the platform established by 5m scrums.
Downing, however, were not able to fully close the gap in points despite their possession and territory. The trys were too little too late and Downing must now win their next three to secure their stay in the top flight.
Jesus Captain Jamie Miller told The Tab “it’d be a tragedy if Downing got relegated, as when they have their full team out, they’re clearly nowhere near the bottom of this league. They have by far the best threat out wide of any team we’ve played this year.”
He added “My mates back home were looking to a good Jesus win as a positive omen for the Ashes. That it is.”
Downing Captian Keith Shagyard was dissapointed by the loss but seemed more concerned about one particular incident moaning – “that Jamie Miller ripped my favourite shorts”.