The sun was out on Saturday to greet two teams fully intent on reaching the Semi final of the EDF cup and to generate a perfect atmosphere for the crowd of supporters from both Cantabs and Sheppey
Cantabs had done a little bit of homework on Sheppey, highlighted their strong players (3, 10 and the back 3 were identified) but more than that had worked out that they were a very physical team, something Cantabs would have to counteract by standing toe to toe with what was going to be a very physical team. And so the game began (although Dean will not like me mentioning) with a kick off that didn’t make the 10 and a first chance to size up the Sheppey pack! The 1st scrum set then scene for the whole 1st half, neither team was prepared to give an inch with players fully committed to the rucks and tackles there were some massive hit coming in. Cantabs spend much of the first 20 minutes inside the Sheppey half but were unable to make the break through required to calm the nerves.
In fact it was Sheppey who took the initiative with a penalty giving them a 3-0 lead. This was the general pattern of the first half, with Cantabs giving away needless penalties allowing the kicker from Sheppey to kick each one giving them a 9-0 lead. However on the stoke of half time Sheppey had their prop sin binned for killing the ball allowing Cantabs to slot the resultant penalty and get the score board moving 9-3 half time lead to Sheppey.
Cantabs knew their defense was strong and simply had to cut out giving penalties away in the red zone and started the second half with the same passion and commitment as the 1st. And in the end their persistence paid off, Francois showing again the his strength when running in open play is second to none, skinning a couple of players and riding a tackle to score in the corner, Ali converting to make it 10-9. However Sheppey once again took the lead with a penalty to make the score 12-10.
Cantabs however were buoyed by the try and worked their way up field, Skeggs eventually scoring an excellent try in the corner as the lead swung back to Cantabs 15-12.
Penalties seemed to be the order of the day and with the clock running down Sheppey scored another to make the score 15-15 and extra time appeared to be looming.
Cantabs however with around 8 minutes left got a difficult kick which they elected to kick (I always had faith in Ali) which he duly did making the score 18-15 and victory was in sight. The last 8 minutes was a war of attrition with Sheppey throwing the kitchen sink at Cantabs, but the defense held out final score 18-15
Cantabs were immense but Sheppey have to be given their due’s the game was one of the best a lot of players have played in with both teams committed and physical, Cantabs in the end edged it to an historic and hard fought win.