Rugby Review: CCK.O.’d by John’s

RUGBY: John’s roll on as Jesus scrape through – all this week’s rugby action from RUPERT MERCER.

Ben Wilson cambridge rugby cck Cunnilingus downing rugby jesus rugby john's rugby nick michelmore redboys sjcrufc robinson rugby rory van zwanenburg Rugby rupert mercer stefan filip

John’s 33-0 CCK

John’s followed up their trouncing of arch-rivals, Jesus, with a convincing dismantling of CCK.

Under a constant stream of drizzle, the game was never going to be one for the purist. Backs struggled to put any sort of passing move together and any more than three consecutive passes was a rarity.

Under these conditions, John’s pack knew that they had to put the hard yards in and from the first they were on top, turning over the ball straight from the fumbled kick-off.

Van Zwanenburg tips back line-out ball for the Redboys

John’s were ahead within minutes, Blues hopeful Ben Wilson taking the ball to the blind-side straight from the back of the maul. CCK only had one man that side and Wilson made short work of him, handing off to burst through for the opener.

The game proceeded to devolve into a catching competition. Both teams kicking most of their possession, with back-line fluency too hard to come by. CCK were making too many errors while John’s back three of Prys Jones, Day and Michelmore held most balls.

Slip slidin’ away – yet another handling error in the wet

This gave John’s the platform to build attacks and further tries came through Jones, Stovall, who pulled strings in the midfield all day, and Michelmore.

This sent John’s in at 19-0 at the break. In the second half the Redboys stuck to their game-plan and never looked in trouble. They were hindered by their third yellow card in a week. The ref (the same man as the Jesus game) had caused the Redboys grief all day, while Johnians on the sidelines wheeled out the age-old rant about officials trying to even up games against them.

The CCK defence at full stretch

The John’s back row bossed the ruck in the second half and were duly rewarded with tries from Hugo Kelly and Timmy ‘Fountim’ Jones.

It was an impressively controlled performance from the Redboys and the perfect follow up to the big win the week before. They’re going to take some beating.

Photos courtesy of Manon van Thorenburg

Downing 21-7 Robinson

This match up was the first of two games in 8 days between a stuttering Downing side and a Robinson XV coming in off three wins in a row. As seems to be the story of this season, both teams were missing key men, particularly in the backs, and the conditions would have suggested that it was going to be a day for the forwards to shine. But with Downing unable to contest scrums, one element of that battle was removed.

Downing started strongly with the lion’s share of possession and territory, and Robinson didn’t help themselves by missing their first three clearing penalties to the touchline. As in previous weeks, Robinson dominated the lineouts, but knock-ons prevented them from capitalising on their monopoly of set-piece possession. Both sides struggled with the greasy ball and the whistle-happy referee killed what was left of the game as a spectacle.

A moment of brilliance broke open the game though as Downing no. 8 Tom Rees boshed through some despairing tackles to score a terrific solo effort under the posts. Full back Ed Tombs converted to give Downing a 7-point lead midway through the half.

For the remainder of the half, the men in pink defended well out wide and had an answer to almost everything Robinson threw at them, only fresher Jonny Miller making serious yards for the boys in blue. Half time came with the game very much still on – Downing leading 7 points to nil.

Downing started the second half playing smarter rugby and dominated the territory battle, fly-half Keith Hagyard controlling the game for them.

It didn’t take long for Downing to sustain some pressure on the Robinson line and Rees drove over to dot down for his second try, Tombs converting again. Five minutes later, another kick deep into the Robinson half prompted a rare mistake by Robinson in the lineout and Downing worked the phases to put in Rees in the corner for a fine hat-trick. Tombs kept his 100% kicking record with a very good conversion from out wide.

Things went from bad to worse for Robinson as lineout stalwart and no. 8 Simon Bushell was yellow-carded for tackling the man in the air at the ensuing kickoff. While Robinson really could have given up being 21 -0 and a man down for 10 minutes, they defended admirably.

With substitute fly-half Ben Garner adding an element of control to their backline, the Pegasus piled on the pressure on the Downing line forcing penalty after penalty. Soon after getting Bushell back on the field, replacement prop Pete Hall drove over from short range with scrum-half Andrew Shipley kicking the extras. With less than 10 minutes to go, a comeback could have been on the cards, but momentum was halted by the referee and a second binning for a dubiously-called swinging arm by flanker Tom Anelay.

The final score was Downing 21 Robinson 7, and the return fixture at Barton Road next Tuesday could be a cracker of a game if the conditions and officials allow it to be. Like this week, both teams will go into  it believing they can win it.

by Stefan Filip (

Jesus 10-7 Queens’

After coming within a point of beating John’s, Queens’ will be wondering how they have come away with nothing from both of their games against Cambridge’s rugby giants.

This was surely the perfect time to take on Jesus after a chastening home defeat at the hands of the Redboys had left the squad reeling and still largely depleted by injury.

Despite this, Jesus started the stronger, making fewer handling errors and managing to put some sustained early pressure on the Queens’ line. This paid off when Calum Mulderigg burst over for the opener inside ten minutes and the extras were added to make it look like it might just be an easy day at the office for Jesus.

However, the weather played its part and the game descended into a forwards’ scrap which neither side could dominate. Possession was largely kicked and the side went in at 7-0.

When Jesus knocked over a penalty almost straight from the kick-off they looked to have started the second half with the purpose they needed but the Queens’ pack really stepped up their game, halting the black and reds at every turn and giving their side a real foothold in the game. This paid off when James Helliwell finished off a tidy move to dive in under the posts. The points went up and suddenly Jesus had a game on their hands.

The climax to the game was tense, but full credit must be given to the Jesus pack who kept admirably cool heads to let their side control the territory and hold out for a much needed win.