(by the report monkey)
As the 21 players (that's right 21!) arrived at Cantabs for the 3s first league game of the season the heavens opened and it looked as though it was going to a game of scuba rugby! Special mention to Brad, John, Dan and Shaggy who were the only guys brave enough to not wait for it to stop and head out to warm up in it. Fortunately it did stop, the sun never turned up but the rain did stop.
With Cantabs at 5 wins for 5 games across the club this season, and Walden historically proven to be one of the areas toughest teams to beat. The pressure was on to not be the side that stopped us going 8 for 8.
I won the toss and elected to kick off, this very nearly went very wrong, as the kick off went straight to their captain who in his own words 'really can move for a fat lad' whose pace and step saw him break several tackles and looked as if he could go all the way. Step up Danny for one of his 100.000 outstanding tackles he made in this game (I don't even think that is an exaggerated number!). Then came a period that has become a common feature in the 3s games (well, it has happened in both the 2 games we have played), where the opposition had us pinned in our own 20 for the next 30 minutes of the game. Just like last week however we held on tight, with every player making the hits that meant Walden could not make this pressure count. Special mention again to Andy, Danny, Daren, Jack, Shaggy, Tom P, Brad, Justin (sort of), Will C, Wayne, Will P, Craig, Finn and Matt (yes I still know I could write everyone!!)
About 5 mins into this period of Walden pressure Justin and the Walden captain had a brief discussion over which handbag went best with their shoes, Sir disagreed with both their choices so sent them both to go and spend 10 mins to evaluate their lives!
With Walden failing to capitalise on the pressure they had mounted (unfortunately for them in this half hour they had 1 missed pen and at least 2 tries held up), Will P managed to get the ball in hand and proceeded to break though the green wall in front of him and after running most of the length of the pitch and generously gave to ball to Craig to dot down for the Cs 5-0. Our kicker shortage continues so again no conversions made this week, but thanks to Matt, Danny (not a typo), Craig and Sacha for having a go!
Having scored we were than guilty of forgetting how strong they had been coming at us and switched off enough for them to score from a driving maul in the corner. If the end result had gone the other way a bitter man may of asked how many times a maul can stop moving, but sour grapes are for losers (and report monkeys). No extras for Walden and the half ended not long after at 5-5.
Personal highlights of the first half, there were too many tackles to have an outright favourite but plating the numbers game it was probably one of Danny's. Also the support runners for the break by Will, Craig may have got the ball but there were 2 others there willing (I think it was Finn and Will C, sorry if I'm wrong I blame me).
A couple of changes at half time - Dan came on for Brad and Mateus for Matt, both had played a great 1st half but 3s rules dictate 'the captain must get all players a game' or something like that.
Walden were the next to get on the board with their maintained pressure earning them a try after several good phases of forwards crashing rugby. This action took it's toll on Mr Moss who, having put his body on the line, took 10 too many hits to the shoulder; this lead to a bit of a reshuffle at the back, with Craig stepping in to 10, Finn coming in to 13 and Sacha taking to the field on the wing. Oh yes the score 5-12 to Walden.
Perhaps inspired by Wayne's sacrifice, Cantabs finally started to apply some pressure of our own, unfortunately for me this saw me having to leave the pitch as 2 Walden tacklers were not convinced my leg and body were attached so tried to send them to opposite ends of the pitch. Johnboy came on for me on the wing and Danny took over as Capt.
Cantabs continued to put the pressure on without me and eventually another break by Tom Petie created some space that Will P then Craig capitalised on, the ball got out to Finn who smashed over and notched up his first try for the blue and whites. 10-12
Walden then lost a player through injury putting them down to 14 so Matt returned to the pitch this time in green. Apparently Walden were briefly down a man earlier in the game, so I will apologise now for not giving them one of our subs at that time, they have always been very generous to us in the past in giving us men when we are short and it was nice to be able to finally return the favour.
With 15 minutes to go, things were getting tense, even more so when Walden earned a penalty in our half, which to our relief he missed the uprights with.
Evenutally we managed to regain the lead and our next try came from some solid forwards work, then a nice little run from Will C at 9 who got the ball to Craig, Craig then proceeded to dodge, dip, duck, dive and dodge his way over the line for his 2nd of the match. 15-12.
The final try of the game went to Sacha, who after supporting numerous breaks on his wing without being given the ball, was finally give chance to open his legs up with the ball in hand, as I remember it there was a cartoon dust cloud behind him as he went round to score his first try for Cantabs under the posts. 20-12 the final score.
My comedy highlight's of the second half were:
Mateus collecting a kick over the top starting to sprint it back, but as he saw the Walden line stood still waiting for him... he stopped still, it took the whole team and side-line shouting at him for him to realise that the whistle had not gone! Special mention to Justin's butter fingers over the line, which was only funny because we won!!
Man of the Match could have gone to many - Will Parry was the key to our attack, Craig has now scored 5 tries in 3 games and Will Cox had a storming debut, but for me this week it was Danny James who stepped up. Solid at the set piece, hard working in open play and tackling like an absolute demon - if it wasn't for Danny I think their captain would have breached our line a couple more times than he did.
Dick of the day - there was no competition for this spot however, if not for the yellow then definitely for attempted ref education. Justin Standbridge.
Next week we travel to Cambourne for the second round of EC3.