The M11 again caused problems but this time your correspondent made the game. Glen and Allen were held up so the game started without them. Romford & Gidea Park boasted an unbeaten home run going back to February, and Cantabs were much changed from our last home game. Vice captain, Shed, was back at 2nd row, and top points scorer David Bloxsum returned to the left wing. Finn Morrison's back was not up to this one, so James Balfe got a start at openside, and Paul Pudney returned at centre. Cantabs were trying out James Hayward at full back for the first time with Euan taking the No 10 shirt.
Romford kicked off with the breeze behind them and were on hand to take possession on our 22. Cantabs were defending furiously and conceded a penalty. Their flyhalf kicked for the corner and we had to defend the lineout on 5m. Cantabs withstood the first onslaught but when play moved over to the right wing, their No 8 took advantage of some poor tackling, at the ruck, to blast his way over in the corner. We were 5 - 0 down after just two minutes.
We knocked on the restart kick, but took the scrum against the head. Richard Knight made the break and brought Paul Pudney into the line. His run was halted 5m out and Cantabs moved the ball back towards the goal but Perksy could not hold onto the pass, and Romford broke clear. Their flyhalf kicked long and the ball found touch way inside our 22. Euan cleared but Romford were now looking threatening again and Francois was shown yellow for a deliberate knock-on. Following the penalty, the resulting lineout was caught cleanly and Romford found acres of space on the blindside to score at ease. Again the kick came to nothing, but the home side were well on top at 10 - 0 after eighteen minutes.
Cantabs started to show some urgency in the shape of a good break from Dean. Richard Knight continued the good work from the recycled ball, interchanged passes with his No 8, terminating in Jamie Williams diving over in the left hand corner. James Hayward's kick went close, but at 10 - 5 we were back in the game.
Romford were soon back on the attack, however, and yet another searching kick to the corner following another penalty, gave them the chance to bring in their big men. Despite three men around their second row, he made it three tries for the home side. Again the kick failed but Romford were asking all the questions at 15 - 5. Cantabs were just not getting their backs into play and the long kicks in the corner were doing all the damage as we were constantly forced back into our own 22.
Francois came back on to level the sides, Jamie Williams disrupted their lineout on half way and Cantabs started to press, winning a penalty for offside inside deep the opposition 22. Perksy called for a scrum, Romford front row came up. Perksy elected for a second scrum, Romford were penalised again. Third scrum, same result; penalty try as the referee had seen enough. 15 - 12, and we were truly back in the game.
Again Romford had time to mount another attack following a long kick to the corner. This time Cantabs defence held firm, Romford got over the line but were held up. The Romford scrum got the ball to their dangerous No 8, but Cantabs were now alive to the threat, he was stripped of the ball and James kicked to touch to end the half.
The second half started much as the first had finished, Euan was caught in possession, they kicked long and we were defending again. Romford's lineout from 10m out was defended well and now James was able to kick long on the breeze up to their 22. We caught Romford offside 15 metres out and James tied up the score at 15 apiece.
From the restart their No 6 was penalised with a yellow for an off the ball incident. But Cantabs failed to break clear from the penalty and a high tackle gave Romford a chance to take the lead again. This time their inside centre made no mistake from 30m; 18 - 15.
Glen then made his changes. Paul Pudney was replaced by Nick Denham who moved to fullback, Euan went to inside centre and James Hayward to flyhalf. James threw a long pass out to the left to Bloxy from inside our 22, he outpaced everyone, running 75 metres to score to the left of the posts. James Hayward's conversion was on the money; 18 - 22.
Charlie joined the pack, and Cantabs were now on top. Hayward tried a little grubber kick through the defence 30m out, gathered the bouncing ball and threw an overhead basketball pass as he was tackled deep inside the 22. Tom Bailey was on hand to take the pass and dived over under the posts; 18 - 29. Try bonus point gained for the eighth game in a row.
Romford came back at us with another well taken penalty to make the score 21 - 29, and had yet another penalty kick that rapped the post and stayed out. Jamie Williams caught the rebound and made excellent ground but got isolated and was penalised for holding on. Romford hit the corner again, but Cantabs were now alive to this threat and cleared the danger with another big kick on the wind. Pudney came back on for Drew and Cantabs pressed through a great Tom Bailey surge into the 22, with Isaia in support. The Essex men were penalised for killing the ball. James penalty kick was charged by a Romford defender, the kick went wide. Sir ordered another attempt, and this time James made no mistake. Game over, 21 - 32 to Cantabs. Four away wins on the bounce have moved us clear into third position.
Next week its Epping Upper Clapton and our Christmas lunch. If you have not booked - I am afraid you are too late, we are full to the brim! However, come and see if the lads can avenge the two earlier defeats by Upper Clapton and whether we can continue this great run into the New Year.