Cherwell

St Catz knock Hall off their throne

St Catherine’s 9St Edmund Hall 3St Catherine’s proved that reputation counts for nothing on the rugby field on Tuesday by deservedly beating Cuppers title holders St Edmund Hall. Hall had scored 130 points in their first two games but in their first tight match it was the boot of Catz fullback Tom Rees which won the day over that of Hall standoff Rob Yates. Catz could now clinch the title if they win at St Peter’s next week, leaving former favourites Hall fighting Peter’s for second place.As if sensing a memorable performance, Catz’ fans turned up in droves. They were rewarded with a match far more gripping than the one-sided drubbings which have dominated the rugby season thus far. Both sides produced defensive performances of the highest order, brutally physical one-on-one tackling complemented by slick defensive alignments. Catz will undoubedtly attribute their victory to their success in preventing Hall not only from crossing the whitewash, but also from scoring at all in the game’s final hour. It was clear from the off that this would be the day of defence and kicking. Catz had all the early pressure, but it was Hall who scored first after a booming Rob Yates clearance set Catz on the back foot. Catz continued to dominate possession, however, and in the 25th minute Hall’s defence finally cracked, handling in the ruck allowing Tom Rees to match Yates’ penalty. As the half hour mark approached, Hall finally found their feet, driving around the fringes of the breakdown and looking to offload in the tackle. However, defence was once again turned into attack as Timothy Carpenter ripped the ball from a Hall back in a bone crunching tackle and broke away in a rapid counter attack from the St Catz half. While some cool last ditch defence from Teddy Hall prevented this exceptional piece of defensive play from producing a try, it was done so illegally. With the last play of the first half, Rees kicked Catz into a 6-3 lead. Hall came out in the second half with the wind at their back, determined to reverse their deficit. Yates was once again pulling the strings, another oustanding kicking forcing Catz into conceding a five metre scrum. As before, however, St Catherine’s stood tall. When Hall’s discipline faltered once more, Catz went upfield and forced another penalty to go 9-3 up. Hall were still within a score of victory; however, for all their efforts, they could neither drive through, pass around nor even, despite persistent attempts to force a mistake out of Rees, kick over the Catz defence. Hall remain an excellent side; indeed, they largely ruled the lineouts, and their back row were outstanding. However, they faced an inspired Catz side whose commitment and incredible discipline in defence made them deserving winners.ARCHIVE: 3rd week MT 2005