Catz escape storms to conquer Hall

St. Catherine’s underlined their championship credentials on Thursday of Oth week with a thumping away win over rivals Teddy Hall. Both sides had to endure hostile conditions at a wet and windy University Parks, in a fixture that had been rearranged from the end of last term. Hall just could not live with the pace and handling of a Catz backline that had been rejuvenated by the return of University squad members Ali Walker and Sean Mackenzie, and the visitors looked dangerous almost every time they were given good ball. Although they came into the game with injuries, and several players missing through University commitments, Hall will be disappointed not to have even threatened a try until the dying seconds, especially as the early stages were a very even affair. With wind and rain swirling around the ground, both sides inevitably struggled with the ball in hand. Attack after attack broke down thanks to the slippery ball. The Catz lineout was especially messy in the opening quarter, with their backs receiving little in the way of quality possession. The visiting scrum was functioning though, providing Catz with a solid and reliable platform of attack. Both skipper Sam Donaldson and Mackenzie managed to squeeze passes out of the tackle, allowing Peter Jones to muscle over the line for the game’s first score. Donaldson stepped up to slot the conversion. It wasn’t long before Catz found themselves once again on the attack, with Jamie Menzies going close before being unfortunately penalised. Hall couldn’t quite manage to clear their lines, with their kicks often failing to make touch. One such poor clearance led to the visitors’ second try, Donaldson finding the ball in his possession and embarking on a brilliant solo run to touch down under the posts. He converted his own score to put his side fourteen points up going into half time. As their lineout began to look more reliable, St. Catherine’s grew even more dangerous in the second period. From a set-piece, they worked the ball to the right, where Matt Perrins accelerated, leaving three Hall defenders for dead to record the third try for the visitors. Donaldson converted and then added a further three points from a penalty, effectively sealing the game with fifteen minutes remaining. Catz weren’t finished, though. Three-quarters Richard Godfrey and Henry Haslam created space on the wing for Walker to burst through and score on his return to the side. To Hall’s credit, they rallied and almost forced a try as the sky became dark in the dying minutes. But Catz were determined not to give their opponents a point, and held on for a famous win that will worry the rest of the top division.By James de Mellow