Jesus and John’s Both Winners Ahead Of Showdown

RUGBY: With the big game looming Jesus and John’s hit their stride.

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With next week’s grudge match between Jesus and John’s looming, both of were keen to send out a message this Tuesday in their respective matches against Downing and CCK. With the sort of form both sides are showing the game is shaping up to be a cracker.

John’s 45-0 Downing

St. John’s bounced back from a lacklustre performance against Queens last week with this comprehensive defeat of Downing. In what looked like being a closely contested match before kick off John’s came out flying, with a line speed, an intensity and a passion, which was not matched by the Downing squad.

Downing failed to deal with the ball from the kick-off allowing John’s to pressure their defensive line, culminating in a dispiriting early try in the far left hand corner for their wing.

The pressure on Downing continued throughout the half, with John’s playing a comprehensive offloading game and dismantling the defensive line. Downing could not get enough possession to make headway and put some points on the board, instead being overwhelmed by John’s vivacity all over the pitch. John’s continued their dominance, with their inside centre at one point breaking the line and neatly stepping the Downing full back.

The most comprehensive moment, however, came later on in the half when John’s managed to push a 5-metre scrum over the line. This highlighted their superiority at the set piece, constantly putting pressure on Downing’s lineout and scrum.

It was this platform, which allowed them to get a foothold in Downing territory and stay there. Their scrum-half was a constant threat around the fringes and used his forwards to good effect, marshalling them to provide good support for the other runners.

After half time Downing improved slightly putting more pressure on John’s around the park, particularly with their line speed in defence, but they rode this pressure well to eventually put some more points on the board to really kill off the game.

In the final 10 minutes Downing did come back, keeping possession and spending a period of time in their opponents’ 22, but the John’s defence held out leaving Downing pointless. St John’s will hope this is the springboard that takes them on to reclaim their title. But for Downing this is a humbling loss, especially after last week’s reverse against Jesus, and they will need to turn in some much better performances in the coming weeks to make the rest of the league see them as a genuine threat.

Jesus 33 – CCK 10

Jesus put in an impressive performance away from home, dispatching a solid CCK side 33-10. The men in red and black showed plenty of creativity and clinical execution to run in five tries, before conceding a late score – the first against them this season.

In hot conditions, Jesus made the early running, with centre Tom Hudson scoring off a well-worked backs move. The Jesus scrum put CCK under plenty of pressure, and the Clare-Corpus-Kings men struggled to get much fluidity into their game. CCK ran their forwards well around the fringes, with their fly half pinning Jesus back with some excellent kicks. A penalty in front of the posts put them back in the match at 7-3.

But Jesus are not Champions for nothing; they immediately raised the tempo to score three outstanding tries in a fifteen minute burst. Fresher winger Mike Pelton finished off some slick hands in the backs, before fullback Dan Mawwon sliced straight through CCK’s midfield defence from a lovely move to score next to the posts. A dummy and fend from No. 8, Jamie Miller, saw him split the CCK line wide open. Prop Ed Taylor in support found Romanian import Mano Manolescu for another try. By half time, at 26-3 the game was all but over.

In the second stanza, CCK began to enjoy more parity in the scrums and lineouts as Jesus struggled to match the intensity of the first half. The CCK forwards put in a mountain of work at ruck time in sweltering conditions, but the impressive Jesus back row turned the ball over time and again, denying CCK any momentum. A tap penalty from Kouj Tambara saw the impressive Hudson grab his second, running a line as hot as his legendary missus.

The last twenty minutes were all CCK, as they besieged the Jesus line. Twice they were held up by some manic defence, and once they butchered a clear overlap with a poor last pass. In the last play of the game, they burrowed over for a well-deserved score.

On today’s performance,  despite the scoreline CCK will fancy their chances of avoiding the drop this season. As for Jesus, and indeed the rest of the League, all eyes turn to the Jesus v Johns at home next Tuesday afternoon. A big crowd is, as usual, expected, with the Red Boys looking to avenge two close League defeats last season and reclaim the title they held for the previous nine years.