What was so supposed to be a clash between the two rugby union heavyweights of the University college system proved to be a thoroughly one-sided affair as reigning champions St. John’s came out resounding victors against a downbeat Jesus team.
Despite taking an early lead with a well-taken penalty, Jesus was never in the game as St. John’s dominated proceedings.
The scene was set early on when, following a scrum in which they were driven back 20 metres, Jesus lost their prop forward to a convenient injury and the scrums became uncontested from then on.
Jesus initially coped well thereafter as they kept the waves of St. John’s attacks at bay. However Jesus couldn’t withstand the sustained pressure from the John’s forwards and eventually caved in.
Outside centre Shao-Chun Lin gave John’s the lead midway through the first half with a delightful chip and chase.
Despite making some attempted breaks of their own, Jesus fell further behind soon after when a series of slick phases by the John’s forwards allowed Chris Johnson to bundle the ball over the line.
The game was then put beyond any reasonable doubt on the stroke of half-time as full-back Ben “boy band” Wilson pierced the Jesus back line after some dynamic forward play, making the score 21-3 at the break.
The second half continued in the same vein with John’s effortlessly asserting their dominance.
Within five minutes of the restart, prop forward Alex Cheetham capped a fine defensive performance with his first try of the match on 50 minutes. He followed suit just inside the hour as he was the first to react to handling errors by the Jesus backs .
The final twenty minutes saw John’s lose their usual dynamism and Jesus find much more of the ball.
For all their possession and efforts though, Jesus couldn’t make it through a resolute John’s defence.
The only late incident of note was a broken nose for Andrew Barrett, having been smashed by his John’s team-mate Mike Shepherd.
The game ended 36-3, with the St. John’s faithful in fine voice and stand-in skipper Gus Maclay celebrating the victory.
Sidelined John’s captain Will Hall commented, “Jesus suffered at the hands of his greatest disciple by over 30 points.”
Can anybody stop John’s?