Cantabs 2s entertained Haverhill on the long road pitches looking to avenge a 27-17 defeat in the reverse fixture. Initial warnings of inclement weather failed to materialise and when the teams took to the field it looked like a firm surface and dry conditions would suit the Cantabs running game. It was also great to see that we would have not 1 but 3 referees overseeing proceedings for the day.
A reshuffle of the Cantabs back line saw Josh shift to scrum half while Puds and Jonny paired up in the centres. Ollie Townsend was given a run out at full back on the back of a number of impressive performances and Xav slotted in on the right wing. In the pack Cantabs welcomed back Ed Scott-Dickens after 10 weeks off, coming in alongside Nat Higg in the second row, whilst Deano took up the unfamiliar 8 berth at the back of the scrum. Cantabs American recruit Wy was poised to make his first appearance for the 2s from the bench.
Haverhill are always well supported and had turned up with a raft of supporters, obviously sensing the opportunity to do the double and it was equally good to see a good number of the Cantabs faithful prowling the touchlines. Cantabs elected to defend the school end in the first half, attacking with a slight breeze on their backs.
Haverhill kicked off to the left, the ball was gathered and secured and Cantabs spread the ball over to the right wing, a half break saw is make yards before the ball was spilt forwards for a Haverhill scrum. Opinion is divided over whether he had even managed to touch the ball yet but it appeared that the day was already over for Cantabs right wing and Xav had to leave the field after 30 seconds of play, with Guns coming on in his place.
Haverhills scrum was secure but the aggressive defence and line speed of the Blue and White back line was able to stifle the attack. Turnover ball was smuggled back onto the Cantabs side and the ball again shifted right, through to Guns who put in a deft little offload freeing up the space for Nat to power over. The conversion went astray but Cantabs were on the board at 5-0.
The ball was again reclaimed from the restart and Cantabs were able to rumble up-field, with strong support running allowing quick ball and an offloading game. A penalty against Haverhill for offside was put into the corner and Laurence claimed the ball from the lineout. The forwards rumbled on and Ed crossed the line. Again, Euans kicking boots were missing, Cantabs into their stride at 10-0.
Cantabs were now getting into their stride, with the chasing and energy in support much improved on the last performance. A kick chase found the Haverhill wing isolated and a quick turnover saw Laurence distribute to Tim loitering on the wing to dive over into the corner, and as was becoming a theme the score remained at 15-0.
Another penalty was nudged into the corner and from the 5 man line launched a catch and drive which rumbled on as Haverhill forwards came from all directions to try and halt the drive. Jonny just got over the line and worse was to come for Haverhill as their Captain was sent to the bin for a very deliberate side entry. Deano attempted the conversion but the result remained the same 20-0.
With Haverhill looking to get on the score board and there attempts to break through the Cantabs line they elected to kick at goal. The attempt fell short and was gathered by Nat who instead of dabbing the ball down for a drop out attempted to run the ball out. He was well shackled by the Haverhill defenders and turned over but again solid and patient defense from Cantabs kept the Haverhill forwards at bay and when the ball finally went wide it was spilled and the danger gone
With a man down Puds crossed under to posts and finally a conversion went over. Haverhill were now desperate to get on the score board with their fly half attempted a drop goal with the last play of the half which drifted away to the right. Half time and Cantabs were 27-0 up.
The adventurous play from Cantabs was to continue in the second half as Cantabs runners continued to look for space, run at shoulders and offloading. Moment of the game came with a break down the left from Deano who deployed his textbook fend on the helpless Haverhill defender leaving him flat on his back. Unfortunately when he did look to pass to the two unmarked backs outside the pass went flying into touch. A steal at the front of the lineout was brought down and rumbled on and over the line for Jonnys second.
Wy came on to the flank for Dean and Euan gave way for Lovett but Cantabs intensity did not drop off. Most impressively, Haverhill put home team under sustained periods of pressure, using their strong scrum as a platform from which to deploy a barrage of attacks on the Blue and White line but each time the scatter defence and the back row were up to the job each time and patience finally gave Cantabs a chance to clear.
Ollie was showing some excellent running with the ball in hand and fielding the ball well at the back, helping run Cantabs out of trouble on multiple occasions. Puds and Jonny where hitting strong flat lines and making the gain line on almost every attempt. Nat, Tozer and Jonny where doing what they do best, carrying with intensity and aggression and Dan was a menace all game. Guns and Alex on the wings were putting in great lines all game and were unlucky not to get on the score sheet and Tim brushed off the years and the man flu to pull off a very assured performance. Final score 51-0
Excellent work all round from the boys who will look to carry the same intensity through to next week when the 2s travel to take on local rivals Shelford, I hope to see you there
Cantabs 51 (27)
Tries (9): Higginbotham, Heaver (3), Pudney, Townsend, Scott-Dickens, Fitzmaurice, James
Conversions (3): Wilder, Lovett (2)
Haverhill 0 (0)
MOTM for the handoff which left everyone in stiches and an excellent performance playing out of position todays man of the match is Deano
DOTD Nat would have been up for this for rocking up late after having to make an emergency trip to buy new boots but his play on the pitch has (just) saved him this week. So this weeks award is shared between Alex, Xav and Ollie for disappearing after the game and flaunting changing room duties (FINE)