Cantabs were back in action after a week off and took the tortuous journey through traffic holdups to North East London for this difficult fixture against Wanstead. Injury and illness had caused Dwayne Iese, Seb Trower, James McCaughran, Finlay Wilson and Tom Bailey to miss this one but the current playing strength of the club is such that we were still able to field three teams and travel hopefully.
Cantabs chose to play up the slope in the first half and our pack were soon in their stride, with the scrum looking dominant. From a scrum, Rich Ford at No 8 shifted the ball to the right missed out the intended Francois and connected with captain Dan Searle, who was able to make the line and run round under the posts. No trouble for fly-half David Reed; 0- 7.
The forwards were dominating the play, Pete Collins rampant in the loose and shackling their dangerous looking No 10. The pack made the second try. The rolling maul took us 20m towards the line, with Rich Ford in control. Ben James took over and made the break for the line to score. Again David converted; 0 - 14.
Next try soon followed, and it was the scrum that won it, giving Rich Ford a relatively easy task to take the honours and again David was accurate with the conversion; 0 - 21.
Then with five minutes of the half remaining, their fly-half finally made a decisive break to gain a well-deserved try, which went unconverted. Half tine and the score at 5 - 21.
At half time Jon Lineham was rested and perhaps Wanstead thought their front row was going to gain some respite but our Italian bull was then released as Isaia took his place. Ben James also took a break to give Fraser Kelsall a spell at blindside. From that point it was really a question of whether Wanstead could prevent our scrum from dominating. However, from the Cantabs restart which was knocked on, our scrum, aided by the slope, gave the Stead pack a torrid time.
Inevitably it was the scrum deep in the opponents 22 that firstly caused the referee to issue a yellow card when it was firstly collapsed and on the repeat penalty scrum, their flanker broke too quickly. Cantabs went for the jugular by calling for another scrum from ten metres out; the ball was well controlled at the back by Richard, who was on hand to dot the ball down as we cleared the try line. This time David missed his kick from wide out on the left, but we were in the driving seat at 5 - 26.
Nick Denham came on for his first team debut and immediately made an impact. Perksy was starting to knock holes in their defensive line with charge after charge. The referee told our scrum to stop pushing as hard, because Wanstead were going backwards too quickly, and the home side promptly won one against the head! He never penalised them once for feeding at the scrum; although this had occurred throughout the match.
David was now kicking immaculately from hand, time and again his left boot pushed play back into the Wanstead left hand corner. From one of the resultant lineouts Wanstead cleared the danger and their backs released their right winger who made good ground. It was prop Isaia that made the telling tackle just ten metres out from our line, causing the ball to be spilled. But Cantabs failed to clear decisively and Wanstead cheered on by their crowd finally made the line to score wide on the right, which was well converted. Score now 12 - 26.
Cantabs again dominated from the restart, and finally the backs moved the ball to the left where Nick Denham gathered an awkward pass, seemed to hesitate for a fraction and then took on two defenders on the outside to dive over in the corner. David made the kick from his difficult side on the left hand touchline; 12 - 33.
That was that really, game over and our best win at Wanstead for many a year.
Next match is at home to Beccles, who lost to Sudbury this week; so the leaders stay seven points ahead of us. Kick off next week is 2.00, so those of you who are sampling Linda's fillet of beef need to note that you are expected at 12.00 for a 12.30 start. The new wood burner will be ramped up to warm your bodies before our lads hopefully warm your spirits.