The Red (or should we say Brown) Boys celebrateDik Ng

The atmosphere, amid torrential rain, on Saturday afternoon was characterised by groups of opposing fans in fine voice (and one John’s fan who made a valiant effort at playing the trumpet), but on the pitch, play was so weather-affected that after a point it began to become difficult to distinguish the kits of the two sides. The John’s strip, a familiar sight to those who have watched Finals Day in recent years, became muddied until it resembled Fitz/Sidney’s maroon and grey.

Fitz/Sidney started strongly, and the attitude on the sideline was one of optimism from those hoping for a close game. The slipperiness of the ball was an issue from the start, and the Grange Road pitch – having seen both intense play and near-tropical downpours in the previous 24 hours – proved to be decisive in determining the pace and the style of the day’s play.

The referees thus far had not been shy in handing out cards, and the first signs of poor discipline came at the six-minute mark, when the John’s players were marched back ten metres from a Fitz/Sidney penalty after the referee took issue with some of the backtalk from John’s. Indeed, the first points of the game came shortly after, when, in the eighth minute, inside-centre Ollie Little knocked a penalty in off the posts from considerable distance.

John’s were able to retain the kick-off and looked to wipe out the 0-3 deficit as quickly as possible. Some excellent handling and superb runs from the John’s fullback Jordan Mubako (which would be a feature of the match) brought John’s within striking distance, and after possession changed hands through a series of knock-ons, John’s used a driving maul to eventually score through Cosmo Summerfield in the 20th minute. Jack Allinson added the extras to put John’s in front, the score 7-3.


Mountain View

Red Boys roast Robinson

John’s struck again almost immediately, not letting Fitz/Sidney breathe, turning the ball over and making their way downfield to score again through Matthew West, a converted try doubling John’s tally to 14-3. Poor discipline seemed to give Fitz/Sidney a way back into the match – too many penalties in quick succession saw Jack Allinson sent off for repeated infringements. However, they were unable to capitalise, giving away reckless penalties and failing to keep play in the John’s danger zone.

After halftime, the penalties were coming thick and fast for both sides, with tired bodies and drenched conditions meaning that both teams found it difficult to put together set plays. A quick tap in these scrappy conditions saw John’s up to the five-metre line in Fitz/Sidney territory, with lock Finn Dawson crashing over in the 46th minute for the final score of the game. A missed conversion left the score 19-3, and it was hard to see a way back into the game for a Fitz/Sidney team that had so far struggled to look dangerous. The match wore on, with the referee describing the pitch as a “puddle”. The game ended after Fitz/Sidney, who had been camped in the John’s 22 for almost five minutes, knocked the ball on in final play.

All in all, John’s were deserving champions after a strong campaign that left them looking locked-on favourites from the start. Fitz/Sidney will rue their missed opportunities, especially when John’s discipline left the door open for a comeback. In a game of attrition that was characterised by errors and infractions, rather than innovation or expansive rugby, it was difficult to pick a standout player but the most eye-catching by some margin was the St John’s full-back Jordan Mubako, who provided some of the best line-breaks of the entire weekend.