The mighty 2's made our way to Epping this weekend for a friendly against unknowns Upper Clapton. Unfortunately, pre Christmas traffic on the M11 was a bit of a nightmare and we arrived with less than half an hour to go before kick off and still missing a carload containing 4 of our numbers. A brief and intense warm up followed, but unfortunately we'd remain at 13 men for kick off (and the entirety of the first half...)
Cantabs kicked off on a boggy pitch, but in otherwise brilliant rugby conditions - the weather was cold but perfectly clear with no wind to interfere. In the first 20 minutes we were playing all the rugby, with the 9-10 pairing of Josh and Simon functioning well and distributing quickly and cleanly to the backs. The ball was worked through the backline multiple times, with Chris on the wing trying to push a probing grubber through to collect. We took this approach a few times but the UC full back did well to grab the bobbling ball and clear his line. However, the pressure showed after 20 minutes, when Owen straightened up in the backline, drawing two defenders and putting our Irish wing through at pace. Again, Chris went for the grubber, and this time it got caught in the full backs legs and was nudged past the try line for Chris to pounce on. Simon slotted the extras and we were away, 7-0.
Not long after, Lovett posted a great clearance kick from deep in our 22, but unfortunately UC made the most of our dog legged defence and found the gap, putting away one of their big men through the middle to score. They weren't able to convert though, 7-5.
Throughout the first half our forwards had done a great job of securing the ball at the breakdown, and on the whole, defence was excellent as per usual this season. One of the UC forwards was on the receiving end of a trademark 'Keith', which seemed to do more damage to our man than theirs... Aside from that, Darren was running well through the Turkey channel, finding holes and crossing the gain line all game, and both the Eds were storming around the park, chopping down the UC attack whenever it cropped up. We only really had one option at the line out in Henry, but he was used well and did a great job of stealing opponent ball for the whole 80.
The second half kicked off, and after 5 minutes or so the cavalry arrived! Despite now having a full complement, injury had pushed UC down to 13 players, so we ended up playing with 14. Immediately the impact of fresh legs was clear, with Finn and Oli tearing around the park like they'd just sat in a car for 3 hours. After I was (gracefully) turned upside down and dump tackled, we took a quick tap and made an excursion deep in to the opposition half - multiple phases of good hands and solid rucking finally put Finn through to score under the posts, but I don't believe we got the extras.
UC came back at us and ended up with three points after we came in from the side at a ruck, but we rounded off the game on our terms as Joe took a direct line through the centres to score. He'd also dotted the ball down on a separate occasion, but this was judged to be held up and the points didn't go our way. 17-8 the final score, and not a bad way to spend a Saturday. Everyone else deserves a mention too - Alex White on the wing had a storming game, and Thom & Tom made a big impact, despite them not being on the pitch as long as we might have hoped!
DOTD - honourable mention to Joe for his drop kick fail, but the winners are the four amigos who turned up after half time.
MOTM - The Tozer show brought out mr angry, and I liked it! Simon for his cool head and honourable mention to Keith for not getting arrested!