Red Boys Restore Pride With Cuppers Win
FRANKIE BROWN sees John’s end the Jesus unbeaten run to lift the Cuppers trophy.
WATCH CUTV’s coverage of the game.
A dominant performance from John’s saw Jesus thrashed 52-8 in the Cuppers Final at Grange Road.
Despite all of the hype surrounding Jesus’ 13 game winning streak, on the day they found themselves out-muscled and ultimately outclassed by their opponents. The Blues who missed the league matches – Baird, Stanton and Burdon – all made a big impression upon the game, and with Mathonway Thomas and Ben Wilson dominating their half-back counterparts, Jesus were never able to impose themselves upon the contest.
After a knock-on from the kick-off, John’s snatched a scrum against the head, as the Jesus pack found itself smashed off the ball, setting the tone for the domination of the set-piece that was the story of the game.
Jesus were able to reclaim possession and relieve the pressure, but a wayward line-out was seized and John’s countered. Good handling on the left wing unleashed Thomas, who cantered over for his team’s first try of the game.
Although the conversion hit the post, John’s scored two more tries in the next 10 minutes. Another break from Wilson, followed by patient build-up play, was finished off by Charlie Baird as the second row barged over from close-range.
Tambara kicked a penalty for Jesus immediately after the restart, but John’s came tearing back into their opponents, sucking defenders in with powerful ball-carrying and then unleashing their backs.
After several phases Stanton glided through a gap in the defence to score under the posts. With the conversion, John’s had sailed to an imposing 19-3 lead with barely 20 minutes gone.
The remainder of the half was a generally scrappy affair, with John’s giving away various silly penalties but Jesus being unable to capitalise on their chances. Barrett and Baird were disruptive at the line out all afternoon, and with the Jesus scrum going backwards, they had no base from which to unleash their back-line.
Whenever John’s had the ball they threatened, with Burdon in particular always testing the creaking Jesus defence. He eventually found a way through, offloaded to Barrett who passed to Chris Hall to power over the line, fending off a tackle from the despairing Chris Blucke. Although the conversion was missed, John’s took a 24-3 into the half-time break.
Jesus emerged from the changing rooms with renewed determination at the beginning of the 2nd half, defending stoutly and beginning to string phases of play together.
Although the Red Boys’ domination was clear, they continued to give away penalties, but Jesus remained unable to punish them for their mistakes. Eventually a driving maul from a line-out provided John’s with a good attacking platform, and Pete Stovall battered his way through to score.
As hard as they tried, Jesus remained unable to impose themselves on the game. Burdon added a try of his own, just reward for his play throughout. The Jesus fans were briefly on their feet as Blucke intercepted a wayward pass and sprinted for the try-line, only to be superbly chased and tackled by Thomas.
As the match entered its final quarter, Jesus were only looking to salvage some pride. John’s responded by keeping it tight, eventually driving over a scrum to leave the score at 45-3. As Jesus threw caution to the wind, Thomas pounced on an ambitious pass to intercept and dive under the posts.
A consolation try was eventually scored in the final minute by Jesus replacement Mike Stevens, but it did little to affect the score line.
As hard as Jesus had tried, the superiority of the Red Boys’ pack had left them unable at any stage to play the sort of rugby that has made them so successful this season. John’s were understandably ecstatic at the final whistle, having had a tough season in the league.
Jamie Miller, Jesus’ injured captain, said simply “Every team has their off-days, we’ve lost one match all season out of 14. It just happened to be today.”
In truth, Jesus had no answer to the power and precision of The Red Boys on the day. Credit must go to Daly and Viljoen in the forwards for defending manfully, but after an extremely successful season this game proved a step too far for Miller and his team.
John’s will be delighted with their performance, and to have ended the season on a high after a season in which their superiority in college rugby has been dented.