For this London 2 game against newly promoted Stowmarket, Cantabs were without halfbacks Knight and Hayward yet again; Dean James taking over at scum-half and Jonny Regan partnering him. First outings of the season for Isaia Barbieri at prop, Will Knights at hooker, centres Henri Cherrington and Mara Tunivanua and Pete Collins. Chris Kelly had also been promoted from the 2nds to open-side with Finn Morrison injured in the game against Saffron Walden. Forty players unavailable to the coaches, meant just two Cantabs teams playing this week.
Cantabs kicked off, in near perfect conditions for rugby, towards the railway. We lost possession almost immediately when Stowmarket kicked a penalty towards touch. It did not make the line and Cantabs quickly resumed attacking. For the first ten minutes, play was confined to the Stowmarket half.
Regan made the first decent break through the centre, it was clear he had decided not to kick too much, and used his power to break the line, linking up with Francois coming through. Stowmarket continued to absorb the pressure and a miss-kicked penalty to the corner rather let them off again. Ed Foster, Pete Collins and Rich Ford were winning good ball in the lineout, the scrum was more settled with Isaia back, but a combination of poor handling and good Stowmarket defence meant Cantabs rarely threatened the line.
After ten minutes Stowmarket then had the first attempt at goal with a penalty just five metres inside our half. The kick struck the bar and bounced out causing a deal of panic as Stowmarket regathered possession. They knocked on; our scrum and a clearing kick to the Cantabs ten metre line got us clear. Rich Ford won the lineout and set up a rolling maul, which moved the ball 20 metres until Stowmarket pulled it down. Again Stowmarket cleared the danger from our kick to the right hand corner. A chip ahead over our defence saw Regan first to the loose ball but he was put under too much pressure and Stowmarket kicked a penalty into the left hand corner. From the resultant lineout Cantabs were caught out from a powerful run, three missed tackles and Stowmarket had scored with their first attack of the game. The conversion was made and on 28 minutes the score was 0 - 7.
A lovely restart kick was almost gathered by Matt Houlden, but he had done enough to upset the Stowmarket defence and Rich Ford gathered the loose ball to put them under pressure. However, Cantabs again could not take advantage and it was Stowmarket who broke clear at speed, taking an advantage of an overlap on the left to put their winger away to run round our defence and score close to the left of the posts. This time No 12 pulled his kick; 0 - 12.
Their inside centre powered through again and a desperate tackle pushed him into touch on the right. That was the last action of the half.
Cantabs again started the stronger and good play got us to within ten metres of the try line on the left. We were awarded a penalty, but silly chat, made Sir reverse the decision and the danger to Stowmarket was averted. Cantabs continued to press hard, we were quick into the tackle and play again was predominantly in the Stowmarket half. Play was to the right deep inside the Stowmarket 22 and some desperate defence left Ed Foster prostrate on the turf. An extended period with our physios saw him leave the game, with a serious arm injury. Glen made the changes, with two subs joining the game. Will McFadyen, playing his first and last game before moving to College took over from Dean at scrum- half with Dean moving to No 8 and Rich Ford to 2nd row.Jack Holland replaced Ryan up front.
The game started with a Stowmarket scrum, Rich Ford Charged down their clearing kick, Cantabs regained possession and hooker Will Knights scored his first try for the Club. Regan failed to convert, but Cantabs were back in the game at 5 - 12.
Stowmarket finally broke into the Cantabs half, and extended pressure saw their prop blast through our defence to score at the post. The score of 5 - 19 hardly reflected the territorial advantage that Cantabs had, but to their credit Stowmarket had taken the few chances they had to be ahead three tries to one.
From that point it was all Cantabs, great attacking play from us; good defence from Stowmarket. Mara Tunivanua made some great drives through the middle, Cantabs tried desperately to get Houlden and Newman away on the wings, but Stowmarket covering tackles were up to the mark. Dean kept sniping away, but all the pressure had not lead to scores. Finally, Isaia went close, held up over the line. From the resultant scrum, Regan got the ball away to the left, where Chris Kelly took the pass to score in the corner; 10 - 19.
Harry Wilson replaced Chris, as Glen made his last change. Still Cantabs attacked, our fitness and tackling were not rewarded with points as Stowmarket were not going to let this one slip. Play continued with Cantabs desperately seeking another score, but was not to be. Final score 10 - 19 and three losses from the first three games for Cantabs.
Great spirit from the team all through the match, this was a game we could have won; we had by far the better of the possession, but lacked that bit of guile and class that Hayward brings to the team. Let's hope he gets back to the country before much longer! The loss of Ed Foster to a serious injury is going to be a bad blow for the Club; Ed had impressed greatly in both games he had played. Next week it does not get easier with title-chasing Wanstead away.