Sedley Taylor Road provided perfect conditions for rugby, and our largest crowd of the season for divisional leaders Cantabs, competing against fourth in the league, Southwold. Cantabs were looking to gain revenge for last season's defeat at the seaside, which effectively cost us promotion.
Starting line-up for Cantabs showed several crucial changes with first pick hooker, scrum-half, No 8(captain), fullback, centre and winger all missing.
3 minutes into the game, Southwold missed a penalty from 25m, following a poor restart from our 22.
Five minutes later with Cantabs starting to push into Southwold territory, a clearing kick was charged down, only 10m from the Southwold line and James Thomas gathered the ball to touch down under the posts. Adrian duly converted and Cantabs were off to a perfect start; 7 to 0
16 minutes: Paul Graddage skipped down the touchline on the left making 40m and avoiding three tackles, but Cantabs failed to capitalise. The pressure continued, however, and a series of five meter scrums followed with our front five giving Southwold a lot to think about, but poor technique let us down and frustration lead to an altercation between Jonny Heaver and the No 4 from Suffolk - both receiving yellow. Jonny then had a handbag session with the Southwold coach as he left the field - but some sort of sanity eventually prevailed.
23minutes: great retention strength from James Thomas saw our pack maul him and the ball over the Southwold line. Two further 5m scrums ensued, but heroic defence from Southwold prevented a score.
27 minutes: break out of defence by the Southwold centre, Cantabs stopped him with a high tackle, and from the resultant penalty, Southwold were on the score sheet; 7 to 3.
32 minutes: great running from James Walton, and then Euan Willder had Southwold at full stretch.
38 minutes, Cantabs were awarded a penalty, centrally, just inside the Southwold 22, and when a kick would have been the normal option, Adrian Clague took a quick tap penalty, shifted the ball left and James McLaughran darted through the cover defence to touchdown; 12 to 3.
No further score in the first half, but Cantabs well on top, with Jon Perks and our two second row forwards giving the Southwold defence a lot to think about, not to mention some sore bodies, as they battered out the hard metres.
Throughout the match our scrum was dominant but neither team fared well in the line-outs, with Charlie tending to throw too long, for Cantabs. When the throws were not straight it was Cantabs that generally got the advantage from the resultant scrums!
Southwold were rarely in our half and looked unlikely to score, then after 50 minutes a slick move from the backs, put Ben Farmer in at the corner; 17 to 3.
65minutes, another great run from left wing, Paul Graddage, saw a try in the other corner denied by the linesman, for a foot in touch.
Then, Warren Cowan started to wind up the opposition with some Warren aggression, but unfortunately his subsequent discussion with the referee earned him a ten minute break. Shortly afterwards, a scrum to Southwold, only 5m from their line was wheeled by the seven man Cantabs pack, Adrian Clague was first to react and pounced on the loose ball to score under the posts; 24 to 3. Bonus point duly earned and Cantabs then turned on the style. For the last 10 minutes.
Ben Farmer rounded off a fine game by deservedly touching down for the fifth try in the right hand corner and his second; final score 29 to 3 and our unbeaten run continues. Also interesting to note that Cantabs 1st XV has only lost one home fixture in two years, and that by a single point to last season's champions, Stowmarket.
Man of the match was awarded to Jonny Heaver for all that unselfish work in the loose that sets up position for the pack and the backs. Not one of our best performances but plenty of honest endeavour and commitment from the entire team.
Everyone played well, and it would seem that the current squad available for our 1st XV provides replacement strength in most positions. Everyone will have to train and play well to justify selection; a healthy situation for the remainder of the season.