Quesus’ Andrew Liang in action before sustaining an injury that forced the tie with John’s into an early conclusionPaul Sanwell/OPP

On a Saturday (26/02) that saw many Cambridge sports clubs march into battle against the darker shade of blue, the city’s gleaming pitches played host to four college rugby matches.

Following on from their narrow 7-0 victory over Fitzwilliam last weekend, Queens’/Jesus (Quesus) dominated a St John’s side that was stripped to the core in terms of squad depth, while Gonville & Caius came out on top with a 50-5 win over Clare/Corpus/King’s (‘CCK’).

Elsewhere, Fitzwilliam/Sidney smashed Pembroke/Girton (’Pirton) by a clean 50-0 margin, and Robinson fell short to Churchill, losing 36-17.

Caius made it two wins in two after beating CCKTom Stokes

Trinity/Christ’s were scheduled to take on St Catharine’s, but their game was unfortunately postponed.

Queens’/Jesus 52 - 7 St John’s

On a glorious, sunny Saturday (26/02), the stage was set for what on paper was a clash of two rugby college titans. But in reality, this was anything but a heavyweight clash, as the number of participants in college rugby sadly continues to dwindle.

St John’s only just managed to put out a team, consisting of a number of hockey and football players, due to a large number of their usuals being unavailable through university rugby commitments. Despite a valiant effort, this gulf in experience showed in a dominant Quesus first half, leading to a blockbuster 52-7 win.

The deadlock was broken in just the second minute, when Quesus fly-half James Onley-Gregson made a lovely break from within his own half before offloading to Tom Hardman for the opening try. Onley-Gregson converted, starting an impressive display from the boot in which he converted six out of the eight Quesus tries in windy conditions.

Quesus added to the scoreline in the seventh minute when they secured the line-out ball, passing it to University rugby player Charles Kantolina who powered through four John’s tackles to take it to 14-0.

The gulf in experience in the backline alone was really beginning to show by this point, and in the fourteenth minute a slick passing move by the Quesus backline ended with Ellis Collins touching down in the corner. The contest was looking increasingly out of reach for John’s and it was now a case of damage limitation.

A depleted John’s side trailed 52-0 before scoring the final try of the gamePaul Sanwell/OPP

John’s fly-half Will Hardman deserves an honourable mention nonetheless, as on his first appearance at number ten his restarts kept giving his side great territory in the Quesus 22. Likewise, John’s hooker Alfie Beckett, who normally plays on the wing, stepped up admirably and threw some impressive throws at the line-out.

However, Quesus were dominating the game on the ground and kept winning penalties to put the pressure back on John’s. Again, this pressure and backline class told in the 21st minute when the ball was shifted out wide to Andrew Liang, who put in some intricate footwork to score.

The pure size of Kantolina was causing all sorts of problems, as he powered through again in just five minutes later. He was bravely taken down by Hardman, but the ball was effectively recycled, enabling James Arthur to score.

This chastening half wasn’t over yet for John’s, as Quesus had time to score their sixth and best try of the half. Kantolina again bulldozed through the line before giving a beautiful offload to prop Harry Marsh. Marsh then showed some deft hands for a forward to offload it to Louis Ursat, who skipped inside to score a glorious try. The halftime score was a bruising 40-0 to Quesus.

In the second half, Quesus added two more to their tally, with Onley-Gregson making another superb line break to score his first try of the match in the 45th minute, before another quick backs move led to Liang getting his second try in the corner just five minutes later.


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But John’s then began to play with some real heart, and put in some impressive defensive sets. Hardman and Beckett continued to impress, while Eddie Kembery made some powerful runs. This improved performance was rewarded in the 52nd minute, when Kembery powered over off the back of a strong John’s scrum to score before Hardman converted to make it 52-7.

The game ended early due to a suspected collarbone injury suffered by Quesus’ Liang, who will hopefully have a speedy recovery.

Qeusus were hands down the better team on the day, but John’s will be a far more ferocious proposition in the upcoming Cuppers fixtures, as they’ll be out to reinstate themselves as the college rugby team to beat.

Varsity Player of the Match: James Onley-Gregson (Quesus)

Looking ahead to next Saturday (05/02), Quesus will face Pirton and Caius will take on Downing. Trinity/Christ’s and St Catharine will be back in action as they clash with Churchill and Robinson respectively, while CCK will host Magdalene/Homerton to round off the day.