St John's School, Leatherhead 1st XV vs Eltham College
On: Friday, 02 Dec 2016
The 1st XV produced some scintillating rugby as they won their floodlit game against Eltham College 55-12. However it was Eltham who started the better and they took a deserved 5-0 lead after indiscipline by St John's gifted them field position. St John's seemed stymied by the occasion and their usual fluency was missing. However as the game progressed they started to show some glimpses of their true self. A penalty by Hugo Coughlan ensured St John's were off the mark (3-5). St John's pressed again and a crafty grubber by Coughlan rolled over the try line and he was able to beat the defence to score under the posts (10-5). Momentum was with St John's but handling errors at key moments saw chances wasted. However some slick passing from right to left gave Joe Jelinek some space and het scored out wide (15-5). Eltham looked dangerous on the break and only some last ditch tacking kept them at bay. The half time whistle went with St John's 15-5 ahead but with the game there for the taking by either side.
The second half was a far more commanding display by St John's. The attack in particular was sharper with intelligent support lines meaning the ball carrier had options either side. The off loading was outstanding and there were some great tries scored (potentially the best of the lot - involving good interplay and then a scything break by Archie Dunnill before a pinpoint 20m pass to Joe Jelinek, was ruled out for a forward pass - however the ref admitted he may have got that wrong - it may still make the highlights package!). Jelinek had already scored his second of the night by then as he supported infield and took 2 players with him as he touched down. Eltham struck back after some sloppy defence from set piece (22-12), but from that moment on it was all St John's. Cameron Hyne cut an excellent line before outpacing the cover defence (29-12) and some clever offloading allowed Bas Senior to show his dancing feet as he cut one way, then the other, and then showed hidden pace to score (36-12). The floodgates opened: Will Sanders finished off another sharp bit of interplay as he showed good footwork to score and then Jack Potter scored his third try in his three 1st XV games to maintain his try scoring record (48-12). The scoring was completed as James White put his head down and dragged a number of Eltham defenders with him (Dallaglio-esque) to round off a great night for St John's. Tom Davison had a storming game for St John's showing how good footwork and a determination to get over the gain line is vital to put the team on the front foot.
The second half performance enthralled the crowd and showed how good this team can be when at their best. And they will need to be at their best next week if they want to end on a high by beating local rivals Epsom College in the final match of the season.