Caius attempt to break through the Downing lineDik Ng

Downing College beat Gonville and Caius 15-10 on Saturday to progress into the third round of Rugby Cuppers. It was Downing who drew first blood, scoring a try to take the lead. This excited the crowd, who were (judging by the proliferation of college puffers) almost entirely Downing supporters. The early try and lack of support did not intimidate Caius though, and they responded with a good spell of possession in the Downing half after a maul.

Their momentum was only halted by the ball being kicked out of play for a lineout, as a significant delay was caused by the loss of said ball in a neighbouring back garden and a subsequent fiasco about how pumped up the ball was. Even this could not stop them, as Caius ran the ball over to bring the scores level. In a pattern to be repeated for the rest of the match, kicker Jonny Gathercole’s attempted conversion narrowly missed the posts to leave the game all square and all to play for at halftime.


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The second half began with a lovely break from Downing, who drove through the Caius line towards their 22 before the attack was scuppered by a knock on. Other than this early move, the second half started quietly, with some in the crowd resorting to watching the Six Nations on their phones. They missed some frankly shambolic defending from Caius, which, if not for a penalty presumably given for offside, would have led to a Downing try.

This decision exasperated and frustrated Downing and they gave away a penalty. A yellow card for Downing followed and this led to a Caius try, which was again not converted.  

Downing were quick to respond with a try of their own, although they also could not take the lead, missing yet another kick. Caius then put them under pressure in an attempt to get back on level terms, but Downing escaped with a great kick from within their own 22, to go deep into Caius’s half. They won a penalty, and (probably wisely) forsook a chance to win the match through a kick. They huffed and puffed for two minutes before finally running over a try with five minutes to go. A few dubious lineouts and some timewasting thwarted any chance of a Caius win, and Downing marched on into the next round.