Jesus Set Up Cuppers Crunch With John’s
MIKE BENJAMIN sees Jesus beat a dogged Magdalene to set up a third meeting with the Red Boys in the final.
Jesus 22-17 Magdalene
Jesus have a chance to complete the double this season after booking their place in the Cuppers Final with a close victory over Magdalene.
In a competitive match, Jesus were just strong enough to edge past a Magdalene team who are also fighting for survival in Division One.
The difference between the teams was found in the backs, as Jesus showed more pace and guile to outscore their opponents.
It was the new league champions’ attacking flair which provided this cup semi-final with an explosive start.
Immediately from the kick-off, Jesus started to string the phases together, often with devastating effect, as they scored in the corner within minutes.
It looked as though Jesus’ imperious chariot was ready to rumble onto the path of further silverware, but Magdalene refused to go down without a fight.
The visitors have shown some inner steel since the turn of the year, as they have picked up some decent results and Jesus’ early try seemed to provoke them into riposte.
The rest of the half was dominated by Magdalene, as they combined strong forward play with some intricate moves in the backs.
Jesus showed tenacity in defence, including a crunching hit by Tambara, but this proved ultimately futile as the defence was eventually carved open as Magdalene rushed through to score.
With Magdalene on top, injured Jesus captain Miller became increasingly vocal on the sidelines. He was particularly frustrated with the refereeing of the break-down as Magdalene appeared to get away with several infringements.
However, it is this type of play- just on the blind side of the law – that is so often praised when performed by international players (stand up Richie Mccaw) and it was clearly frustrating Jesus.
Miller was reduced to exclaim: “There’s only one team playing rugby here!” as the home side struggled to get a handle on their opponents.
Worse was to follow as Magdalene sprinted over for their second try, even though Jesus believed that play should have been stopped for an earlier infringement. This only added to the growing sense of injustice.
With a female referee, it looked as though there might be a repeat of Massey-gate. Luckily, Keys and Gray were not on hand to voice their concerns.
Jesus’ sense of injustice was tempered by relief as they managed to score an intercepted try before the break. However, a Magdalene penalty on the stroke of half time meant they went into the break with useful 10-17 lead.
The second half of the game was a completely different story, as Jesus controlled both territory and possession. The fact that Magdalene didn’t score a single point in the second half was vindication of this domination.
This meant that the Jesus backs had plenty of opportunities to create scoring chances. Their full back was instrumental in this, as his pace and power made him especially elusive.
A further two tries from winger Marron and replacement scrum-half Jones were reward for the backs’ hard work, and helped propel them towards the final. The last 10 minutes revealed Jesus’ passion, as they prevented Magdalene from ever playing as they secured victory.
As such, Jesus will be eyeing up another encounter with John’s, who dispatched Downing in their semi-final. A hat-trick of victories would surely confirm the power shift which has occurred this year, and help Miller’s team to achieve a famous double.
Magdalene, meanwhile, have little time to regroup as they face a crunch relegation decider against Queens’ next week.