In my 10 years in the 3s there has been several league reshuffles, but there has been one opponent that has followed us though-out. Shelford 5s, a normally rag-tag bunch of lads whom follow the same Saturday is the Rugby day philosophy as us.
This season has seen them looking stronger in the league than I can remember so an intense battle was anticipated.
Cantabs started strongly with Ed regaining the kick off, and we crashed forwards ominously, until their centre sneakily (or skilfully depending on your bias) plucked the ball from a Cantabs pass, Marks cover tackle was not enough to stop the support he brought with him and Shelford got the opener.
With the skies opening the game was mostly a trench warfare kind of battle with both sides showing their metal in attack and defence.
However where Cantabs were unable to make the final few meters on several occasions, Shelford were not. With a couple more tries scored and a penalty try awarded (something silly like not being allowed to play the ball of your feet 6 inches from the try line), Shelford came off the better on the scoreboard in the first half.
Luke, Will, Jamie and Rands among those whose efforts were stopped fractionally close to shifting the flow of the game.
Shelford scored again at some point in the first 30 mins of the second half. Which was for the most part a return to the very balanced war of the final 20 minutes of the first half.
After 70 minutes of attempts Cantabs were awarded with one of my top 10 ever blue and white tries. Not the most beautifully worked try in history, but in terms of determination, and the fact that every single man was involved at least once in its creation puts it up there.
As I remember it most of the team had already been involved in the work to get us up to their 10m line, once there we earned a pen off a Shelford man giving himself a headstart from a ruck. Tozer tapped and crashed in, Ed and Stef adding stability to the ruck, Will picked and popped on the drive, Tom crashed in, covered by Shaggy and Wy, Ash tested the wing, just avoiding a drive out of the side, someone else had a crash (I was cuddling Ash at this point so could not say who), Tom collected a loosened ball and had another go. Deciding all this forwards work was a silly this Will popped it out to Luke, on to Lovett, on to Rands who after 70 mins of tricking them into thinking he never passes the ball, popped it on to Tim (secret winger) Fitz, who crashed it over the line to score.
Shelford got one last score at the close to end the game 40-5.
Not the score we wanted but the score we received. But that said this is probably the best of the 19 of these fixtures I have played in. While winning is generally more fun than losing, a right good battle in the mud is proper good fun.
All 18 men in blue and white (and brown), did themselves proud 80 minutes of good old fashioned rugby. Pride in the badge and pride in your mud brothers was shown by all.
MoM- a real tough choice this week with so many outstanding efforts. But for me I feel that Luke can take a well earned bow for bossing the 10 spot like a BAMF.
DoD- was a close fought thing between a knock on over the line and someone converting a 22 drop-out to us to a 5m line out to them. A tap to the face excuses the knock on, and too much experience to excuse the other means Ashley can hang his head for a week.