Downing Grind Out Win Over Robinson
In a match dominated by the forwards, Downing ground out a victory over a strong Robinson pack
Robinson 6 – Downing 12
In closely fought match, Downing took the Robinson pack head-on to retain their spot at the top of the league.
Tuesday’s wet conditions provided the perfect stage for a clash between the league leaders, Downing, and Robinson, hot on their heels. Renowned for their powerful pack, Robinson were eager to get stuck into the forwards’ game they have favoured in recent years. Downing aimed for the opposite: to make use of their swift back-line to put points on the board. Both teams were suffering from depleted squads meaning every player expected a tough game ahead of them.
The game kicked off with a war of attrition between the packs: Robinson’s experienced forwards repeatedly charged the Downing line, but made little ground against a sure defence. The home team’s will to avoid using their backs resulted in ruck after ruck, with neither side gaining the upper hand. The first scrum of the game charged Robinson morale, forcing the Downing pack a good distance back. However, flankers Matt Hall and Si Gilbert, father of one, stepped up to the plate and prevented the opposition from using any quick ball.
Keen to even the odds, the DCRUFC back row ripped the ball from Robinson possession, and several powerful runs from Arnold and Rob ‘Unbiased Journalism’ Hall pushed the game back into the opposition half. Robinson’s strong defence and excellent work at the breakdown from Miller kept open play restricted, but strong magenta line-outs brought the game closer to the goal area. Seeing a gap, winger Dan Janman charged into – and nearly out of – the try area, Downing led 5 to nil.
Seeking recompense, Robinson ploughed on; powerful runs from Commin, Sheeman and Special Pete battered the Downing defence. Eventually, the visitors conceded a penalty, which was easily slotted by Garner to narrow the deficit to 2 points.
Marshalling the troops, magenta fly-half, Roberts, led a series of quick wide attacks, but it was his tactical kicking that made Downing significant ground. Unfortunately this was spoiled by the Robinson backs, bringing the game back into Downing territory.
Returning after half-time, DCRUFC unleashed their little-known secret weapon, one Louis Ross, whose presence wrought havoc in the Robinson ranks: making several breaks before blazing over the line in glory. Tombs got the extras: Robinson 3 – 12 Downing.
Throwing all they had into the fray, the Robinson forwards struck again and again, chipping away at the Downing defences. Despite Ross rampaging across the pitch, the home team’s attacks made deeper and deeper cuts into Downing territory, and another penalty gave them an extra three points to bring the score-line to 6-12.
Eager to continue this momentum, Robinson foolishly allowed their backs to handle the ball, resulting in Downing gaining ground from turnover ball. The home team were quick to block any hopes of another try.
Whether through Robinson fatigue or Downing grit, competition between front rows began to look far more even. More pick-and-goes kept possession with the forwards; the backs dealing with philosophical matters or twiddling their thumbs to keep warm. The match ended with Robinson going for broke: 15 minute period of sustained possession almost saw the home forwards rumble over to win the game, but poor handling conditions meant the game instead ended with a knock-on.
Despite a near upset, Downing remain top of Div 1, happy to have come away with even the modest victory. A bonus point for Robinson bodes well for their season to come, with a pack capable of out-scrumming most in the colleges’ league.