Trinity Hall extinguish any hope Caius had of Cuppers glory, and in doing so, set up a tantalising finale with Downing. SAM HOBBS reports.
Sun bathed the Wychfield site on Tuesday as Tit Hall took on Caius. A nervy first half gave way to a more open second, in which the men in monochrome asserted themselves to stake their place in the final. Caius, having battled bravely, were left to make do with a consolation try right at the end of the match.
Many years ago, Henry James extolled the aesthetic virtues of Trinity Hall, and it was easy to see why, as their grounds made a beautiful setting to an attritional game of rugby. You couldn’t fault the two sides’ commitment – the hits were hard and the breakdowns brutal; it was just a final piece of quality that really lacked in the opening exchanges. An audacious drop goal attempt from the hosts was indicative of the scarcity of chances.
Caius were not helped by a serious injury to cultured fly-half Tommy Village. Taken out late after a clearance kick, he hobbled off with suspected ligament damage to his ankle. This stunted the flow of their play and allowed Trinity Hall apply more pressure. Likewise, Caius found themselves hindered by Tit Hall’s insistence on uncontested scrums, which lessened the impact of the away side’s powerful forwards.
Still, the first half ended scoreless, and when the first try came, it was something of a surprise. Trinity Hall were 3-0 up, thanks to Bath’s penalty. They won a penalty in the middle of the pitch, and with nothing on, Williams ran at the defence. Showing remarkable pace for a big man, he found a gap, going all the way and scoring superbly in the corner. Bath put away the conversion without any fuss.
The try seemed to break Caius’ valiant spirit. Williams went over again after a close-range scrum; Ansari showed electric pace to round the defence and score. As a contest, the game was done. Caius kept plugging away, roared on by an impressive away following. Captain Austin knocked on with the try-line in sight on one occasion, but on another, he offloaded to Blythe, who finished well for a consolation try. Trinity Hall deserved their victory, though, and go on to face Downing in the final. A huge game for them; with the wind in their sails after an impressive second-half display, who’s to say they can’t upset the Division 1 leaders?
Photos by Simon Schofield