The 3rd round Junior Vase tie was awarded to Cantabs with prescribed opponents Writtle Wanderers not relishing the task. So a friendly against St Ives was hastily organised by John Edmonds, and we were able to welcome back an old friend, Coach Alan Hines and his unbeaten team from Midlands 4. Cantabs did Alan the honour of fielding a strong XV, with the club captain Richard Ford sitting this one out with a muscle strain. The squad were anxious for a game before the big league encounter against Wisbech only two weeks away and no game planned prior to this. We welcomed back Irish James at 12 instead of Samisoni Kididrono, partnered by James Walton at 13 and Jonny Heaver moved to No 8.
St Ives kicked off but after only 4 minutes, Cantabs managed to muscle the ball on the St Ives 22, moved it left at speed through the centres and Euan touched down in the corner; 5 to 0.
8 minutes: excellent support play deep in St Ives territory by Warren who moved the ball across the defensive line finding Ben Farmer who just failed to score, but managed to offload in the tackle to the supporting fly-half, Adrian, who dived over in the right hand corner. Good kick from Ali, and the score 12 to 0.
20 minutes, a scrum won against the head by Cantabs close to the line, but the drive was held up over the line. Two more scrums to Cantabs from 5m thwarted by St Ives, but in the effort to repel our pack their front row was damaged and non-competing scrums were from that point the order of the day. As St Ives were being totally destroyed by our pack up to that point, Cantabs had to rethink their strategy.
For 15 minutes, Cantabs had their worst period and scarcely looked like scoring, despite having the territorial advantage. Very reminiscent of the previous week’s game against Crusaders.
Then after 35 minutes, it all started to click. From our own 22, half of the team got involved in some great inter-passing, following a typical driving run from scrum-half Dean, culminating in a try for Dan Searle; 17 to 0.
Two minutes later another flowing move from the backs, a great dummy from Irish James and Ali was on his shoulder to take the killer pass and score at the posts. Simple conversion; 24 to 0.
40 minutes: from a Cantabs scrum, just 10 m out, dean moved the ball right to Adrian, ran round in support and just managed to ground after a diagonal run. Ali again kicked the extra; 31 to 0, at half time. The crowd still buzzing after some great team tries.
In the 2nd half St Ives came at us with renewed vigour, and the breeze behind them; and for five minutes pressed hard in our half but to no avail. The Cantabs defence and rucking was rather too much for our junior opponents.
45 minutes, some typical forward muscle and not a little skill had moved the play deep into the St Ives half once more. Dean again forced his way through the St Ives defensive cover to touch down under the posts; Ali slotted the kick; 38 to 0.
50 minutes: Chris Walliker broke clear after good work by Dean, Ali in support, as usual, took the inside pass for the try and the conversion; 45 to 0.
55 minutes: lovely pick-up by Irish wide on the left, gave him a score in the corner; 50 to 0
60 minutes: Yet another great driving run by Dean, some slick handling from the backs and Euan scored in the left hand corner; 55 to 0
65 minutes: diagonal run from Ali from deep, after some selfless work from our forwards, and Ben Farmer cuts in from the right wing to score, 60 to 0
70 minutes: James Walton on hand to finish another sweeping move in the left corner; 65 to 0
75 minutes: it’s James Walton who again takes the honours on the left; 72 to 0. Soon after John Evans blew for time to save St Ives further punishment.
This was a day when the backs took all the scoring honours, but it was the work put in by our pack that forged the openings and took the sting out of the St Ives defence. Every man in the pack worked their socks off, some of the tackling and rucks were awesome. Dan awarded “man of the match” to our front row, but frankly it could have gone to anyone.
In the huddle after the game, the coaches asked our 2nd XV to join in. It was just reward for their cup win against Hertford A in the adjoining pitch. Hertford were beaten 23 to 10, their first defeat of the season (they head the Greene King Super Premier division, and beat us by 70 points earlier in the season)
Another great day for the Club, both teams coming through with wins, just a shame that Hertford felt they could not accept our hospitality in the clubhouse afterwards. 12 wins out of 12 for our 1sts and some of the best rugby of the season. Good luck to St Ives on their quest for honours in the Midland League.
It was a welcome return to form for our 1st XV before the game against Wisbech on 10th December. REMINDER IT’S OUR XMAS LUNCH, book your place before it is too late!