Cantabs travelled to Ipswich for this league encounter, hoping to continue the better form they had shown since we had lost narrowly in the home fixture to our old rivals. Cantabs had Perksy back at tight head for only his second game of the season and Adam Fastnedge returned after some weeks out injured.
Cantabs kicked off with the breeze helping them, but it was the scrum that was giving Ipswich all the problems as Cantabs started to dominate territory initially. The pack were drawing a succession of penalties at each scrum and with Pete Collins dominating the lineouts Ipswich were not progressing into our half. For all this domination in the tight, Cantabs were spurning chances by a combination of greasy conditions and poor handling.
At least the Ipswich crowd were subdued as Cantabs continued to dominate. Several times we got to within ten metres of the Ipswich line, but never really looked like scoring. Invariably, Ipswich backed off the Cantabs lineout in an attempt to thwart our driving maul, and for a while this tactic did work. We were now approaching half time and still no score. Ipswich were now electing for lineouts rather than scrums, but we were stealing a good proportion of their ball. Finally after a good catch from Collins, we drew the penalty in front, only fifteen metres out and with time up on our watches, James Hayward slotted home the kick; Cantabs inched ahead to 0 - 3. However, the game continued although there had been no stoppage time to speak of. Five minutes became ten minutes, and still we played on. After twelve minutes of added time, Ipswich finally entered the Cantabs half and a penalty brought them to a five metre lineout. Ipswich drove for the line and thought they had scored, but Sir adjudged the ball held up. Cantabs continued to defend, and still we played on. Finally with 16 minutes of added time the half was brought to a conclusion.
No changes from Glen at half time, but Ipswich started the brighter and gained a penalty to level the scores at 3 - 3. Things went from bad to worse as Shed was yellow carded for a high tackle in the next Ipswich attack. The penalty was successful and Cantabs after an hour of domination were now behind at 6 - 3. Ipswich had made changes to their front row and their new loose head had to be lectured by Perksy for head-butting him at each scrum, then he was taught how it should be done. However, Cantabs were now under severe pressure and another penalty kick to the left hand corner saw the Cantabs line come under attack. Cantabs were a man short in the scrum, but Ipswich were still pushed back.
From a lineout ten metres out from our line, Ipswich threw too long and Rich Ford gobbled up the throw and surged up field. Hayward took over and kicked ahead, and just lost out in the race to touch down as the ball went dead. But Cantabs had finally broken out from their own half and Shed was restored to action. Danny Richards replaced Rich Ford, Charlie Searle gave Perksy a break up front. Some desperate defending from Cantabs gave rise to yet another penalty, bang in front; 9 - 3 and the game seemed to be slipping away from us.
Isaia had injured his shoulder in defending his line, so Perks was restored to the front row. Fergus Wilson joined the game on the right wing with Ollie Blackmur moving inside to replace Drew Tilley at outside centre. Cantabs were now back on top, and a large scale hand bag session disrupted play for a while; Perksy seemingly trying to demonstrate that his bag was larger than an Ipswich one. Sir settled the dispute with a scrum to Cantabs just fifteen metres out. The next scrum was ten metres out followed by an Ipswich scrum six metres out. Ipswich no 8 saved the day but our lads were swarming all over the Ipswich defenders as they tried to play the ball out of danger and we won the ball back. Hayward shipped the ball wide to the left and with Ipswich dragged out of position, Ollie Blackmur scored the first try of the game. Hayward's conversion kick narrowly missed to the delight of the Ipswich crowd, as they were still ahead to 9 - 8.
Ipswich restarted, but were pulled back to the centre spot as their forwards had been too eager and strayed ahead of the kick. The resulting scrum gave us the chance to attack again. A kick from Hayward into the Ipswich 22, a steal from Collins at the lineout and a great rolling maul, got us to within inches. Suddenly Richard Knight was leaping over a sea of bodies like a spawning salmon to touch down on the line. This time Hayward's kick went in off the right hand post; 15 - 8 with less than five minutes left.
Ipswich pounded our line, won penalty after penalty, but Cantabs held on, and finally Hayward seized on a loose ball virtually on his own goal line, kicked the ball into touch and the final whistle went. An excellent win for Cantabs which moves us up to 32 points for the season and the relative safety of eighth place. My man of the match was the prodigal son Jon Perks who came out of retirement to literally give their replacement prop a lesson in front row play.
Next week we entertain Sudbury at Sedley Taylor Road, and that will not be as straight forward as their backs have scored a hat full of tries this season and their club look like returning to London 1.