JAMES COLLEGE 47
ALCUIN COLLEGE 12
Emperor League – Sunday 28th February
An irrepressible James College all but claimed back-to-back Emperor College Rugby Championship crowns after an emphatic 47-12 win over title rivals Alcuin at a boggy York R.I. yesterday. The clash between the two big guns of college rugby had been hotly anticipated, with last term’s fixture having resulted in a narrow James win, but this time the action was far less nail-biting.
James effectively had the game in the bag on the stroke of half-time when Aaron Rolph strolled through a number of would be tacklers to dot down under the posts, giving his side a 26-0 lead at the break. The reigning champions fully utilised the pace at their disposal throughout the backline and were particularly dangerous on the counter attack. Their pack, notably back rowers Giles Welford and Captain Bruce Green also rose to the occasion. The smaller but more mobile James eight were routinely able to get to the breakdown first and supplied a string of turnovers throughout which the three quarters exploited with relish.
Depleted by injuries to several backs, Alcuin struggled to cope with the sheer pace and dynamism their opponents possessed behind the scrum and at times James seemed to be breaking the line almost at will.
To their credit, Alcuin were much improved in the second-half and spent extended periods in the James half. Their ability to hold on to possession for longer periods enabled the ball carriers in their pack, led by stand-in Captain Ross Gehnich and lock Ty Partridge, to batter holes in the James defence and resulted in Ben Howes and then Gehnich himself barging over from close range. Alcuin also gained the upper hand at scrum time and despite the result, injured captain Giles Raymond saw enough in his side’s performance to remain upbeat. “The second half was far more positive for us so we’ll look to build on that, but fair play to James they were clinical,” he said. Raymond also praised the contribution of his pack, maintaining that the lopsided score line was not indicative of the gap between the two sides but merely ‘a lesson in how to take chances’.
As a result of this term’s weather, Alcuin had only managed to play one match prior to yesterday and rustiness may well have been a significant factor in the first-half as James raced ahead. The match was barely minutes old when James burgled a scrum against the head and scrum half Huw Harrow broke up the blindside, putting Ben Ivory over in the right hand corner. Ivory then turned provider, a sublime offload allowing Alex Muntus to finish off a glorious handling move in the same corner. A searing run from centre Chris Smith set up Oliver Woodward for James’ third try before Rolph’s solo effort gave James a commanding half-time lead.
Despite Alcuin offering more resistance in the second period, James’ backs were still a regular threat from anywhere on the pitch and further tries from Tom Prifti, Anthony Matthews and the prolific Smith meant the result was never in any doubt. James President Muntus, who added twelve points with the boot, was understandably jubilant after the match and was satisfied with all aspects of his side’s display. “I thought our forwards stepped up tremendously well to the considerably larger Alcuin pack and the backs were very clinical keeping it simple but very effective,” he said.
Their status as the dominant college in the fifteen man game now assured, James will be favourites entering the annual tens tournament in two weeks time. But with the other colleges now having every incentive to knock them off their perch it promises to be an exciting day of rugby on the 22 Acres.
James Line-up: 1. Griff Chatwin 2. Thomas Rodliffe 3. Dave Wilcock 4. Tom Pinney 5. Sam Burgam 6. Bruce Green (c) 7. Gideon Heugh 8. Giles Welford 9. Huw Harrow 10. Alex Muntus 11. Oliver Woodward 12. Tom Prifi 13. Chris Smith 14. Ben Ivory 15. Aaron Rolph
Substitutes: Michael Moloney, Anthony Matthews, Rob Donell, James Paul, Adam Biggs, Alex Prowse
Alcuin Line-up: 1. Matt Forrest 2. Tom Fitz-Hugh 3. Johnny Hamilton 4. Ty Partridge 5. Simon Owen 6. Ben McNorten 7. Steve Cole 8. Ross Gehnich (c) 9. Rhys Spong 10. Ben Howes 11. Chris To 12. James Hargreaves 13. Matt Bowyer 14. Tom Gibby 15. Andreas Papadolambakis
Substitutes: Tom Rider, Brad Voigt, Benoit Jamous
Referee: Tom Weir