John’s prevailed in the Rugby Cuppers Final with a powerful performance against Emmanuel. Tries in either half from blues Hugo Kelly and Tommy Pascoe were enough against a spirited Emmanuel side.
Ultimately Johns’ superior pack showed as Emma tired in the second half. Their backs clicked into gear and Emma simply couldn’t match their physicality or contain the line breaks. Mike Philips was excellent for Emma while Kelly carried with power and intent. Emma will rue a missed chance in the first half but it was John’s who ran out deserved winners and added the rugby Cuppers to their success in the football tournament.
In front of a large crowd at Grange Road, John’s had to work hard to exert their physical prowess as Emma made the brighter start. Philips kicked the first points of the game with a penalty after John’s were slow to retreat from a quick penalty. Philips soon had a second chance for another three points but his attempt fell just short.
Emma had turned out in force and their supporters were far more vocal, but John’s were soon on the board. After a series of offsides John’s kicked into the corner as Emma prepared for the John’s driving maul. It seemed as if Emma had contained it, but John’s pack, complete with four blues, found a second wind and Kelly went over for the first try of the match.
The conversion was missed and with the score at 5-3, Emma had a glorious chance. Winger Olly Carr broke through after a smooth backs’ move but Ilia Cherezov, another blue, did exceptionally well to tackle Carr into touch.
As half time loomed the first chorus of ‘I’d rather be at Oxford’ could be heard but it was John’s who were on top. A sneaky short kick from John’s in their own 22 saw Jamie Crawford race up the pitch but his grubber kick did not come off and the sides went in with the score 5-3.
The second half began with the sun now set and Emma coming out to a rapturous reception and they needed their fans as they were soon under pressure. John’s made it to Emma’s 22 and they were relentless as they continually battered Emma’s defensive line. Emma produced a series of huge tackles to keep John’s at bay but John’s eventually earned a scrum. They worked the scrum well and Pascoe scored Johns’ second try. James Cliffe sent the conversion over.
With the score 12-3, the Emma supporters roused themselves for much more vocal rendition of ‘I’d rather be at Oxford’ but John’s soon extended their lead. Cliffe sent over a penalty to make the core 15-3 after Emma’s indiscipline at the breakdown.
As the game ticked passed the hour mark, Emma began to bring on their replacements as they sought a way back into the match. However it was John’s who scored next as Cliff kicked over his second penalty to take his points tally to ten for the match.
The match was slipping away from Emma but, with their fans roaring, they redoubled their efforts and scored a deserved consolation try through blue Seb Tullie. Sandy McCleery made it a seven point score but time was up and John’s were the champions.