Cantabs entertained Beccles at Sedley Taylor Road with a chance to leaf frog their rivals and move up the league table. James Walton and James McCaughran were both unavailable for this match, so Drew Tilley and Samisoni Kididromo teamed up at Centre.
Cantabs kicked off in clear calm conditions towards the railway; the playing surface was spongy but perfectly playable.
Cantabs had an early chance to test the Beccles scrum and our pack looked to have the advantage in this area, but the visitors certainly had the best of the first ten minutes with their large forwards keeping the play in the Cantabs half. Josh made the first good break from fly half out of our 22, and made a good touch to give Cantabs a breather. After 12 minutes Warren made a great run down the right hand touchline, only to be brought down ten metres short of the line. He didn’t get up and ultimately left the game with a knee ligament damage. Skeggsy joined Jonnie at 2nd row, but to great effect initially as the pack mauled Beccles back fully 20 metres, just failing to make the try. We were awarded a 5m scrum, but somehow Beccles survived.
Now Cantabs were pushing Beccles back into their own half and Dean’s left boot was doing the damage with some good place kicking down the left. Our scrum was now giving the visitor’s pack all sorts of problems. However, it was Beccles who had the next chance to score when a couple of kicks through our line on the right nearly saw them go clear but for a great sliding gather of the loose ball by Tom Skelton coming right across our back line to prevent the score.
After 25 minutes and with no score to either side, Beccles had the first chance to open their account with a penalty awarded 25 metres out on the right. Luckily for Cantabs the kick rapped the post and although their winger caught the rebound ten metres out, Sami pushed him and ball all the way back to our 22. It was the wake up call we needed. Dean and Rich Ford combined to work the ball up field and Josh following up was penalised for a high tackle in his attempt to pin back their defender. At this point in the game we lost winger Tom Skelton after a heavy tackle, and Francois Eve replaced him on the wing.
35 minutes into the game it was Sami who made the decisive break from the Beccles 10m line on the right, following some great work from Rich Ford. When Sami was tackled 5m out from the try line, Ali was there in support to take the ball from him and go over under pressure. 5 – 0 to Cantabs; Ali’s conversion attempt drifting past the far upright.
Beccles then replaced their tight-head prop, but his initiation at the scrum saw our Italian bull, Isaia, lift him clean into the air, and the Beccles scrum was in complete disarray. The only other action in the half was a good blindside move from our scrum in attempt to get Francois away on the right; the final pass going astray.
Beccles kicked off the second half and the break appeared to have done them some good as the early exchanges saw Cantabs under some pressure, but the visitors backs were given no space and the threat evaporated. Throughout the game Cantabs tackled and rucked well and try as they might Beccles could not get through our line. Francois' strength in the tackle gave rise to Cantabs winning good territorial possession on the Beccles 22 as he locked up their second row, giving our scrum another chance. Beccles then changed their props again! Dean then made a great touch on the left, inside the opponents 22, with a kick using the outside of his left boot. Rich Ford made a great catch to win the lineout and the pack drove him forward towards the line. Isaia took over next but was then also adjudged held up over the line for the second time. Skeggsy took a breather and Denman joined the fray. At the next scrum, centrally just outside their 22, we won clean ball, moved the ball sharply left and a racing Paul Graddage scored in the corner. Again Ali could not make the conversion, but it was now 10 – 0, and just desserts for some good Cantabs pressure.
Beccles were not done however and following a well struck place kick, they gained a lineout on our 5m line. Despite some desperate defending, Cantabs eventually succumbed to a driving maul and a good forwards try for the visitors. Their kicker had no luck with the conversion from wide on the left, but the Beccles were back in the game at 10 – 5.
Sensing a chance of a result their coach decided to bring himself on at 2nd row, he had been talking a good game all afternoon, and now he was going to show them just how. Perksy, took a break from the action, or rather his knee did; Denman moving to prop. Cantabs then won a penalty 30m out on the left; Ali slotted this one, 13 - 5. Then he missed an easier chance a couple of minutes later;
Josh made a couple of great kicks, setting up play in the Beccles half. Skeggsy and Rich were by then winning almost everything at the lineout. Beccles lost their centre and their Club Chairman, who had been running the line, got some real action. Isaia then showed his strength with some powerful driving, setting up the play deep in the Beccles 22. Beccles were now holding our scrum, but Rich Ford picked up at the base, moved the ball out to the left, where our backs went across the line out to Paul on the left who skated in for his second try in the corner. Ali made his kick from way out wide on the touchline and wrapped up the score at 20 – 5.
So, our first double of the season, and we move to fifth in the division, seven points behind the leaders South Woodham Ferrers, who will be next at Sedley Taylor Road in two weeks time – not one to be missed.
Our front row was awarded “man” of the match and who would argue when our scrum was so dominant. I thought Rich Ford and Jonnie Heaver also had great games, and Beccles just could not handle Sami in the centre. Josh also had a good match, but it is our overall defence that is keeping us in with a chance of promotion. We have conceded fewer points than anyone else in this league, and it says a lot for the commitment and fitness of the lads.
Next week we are away to Harlow, who will be no pushover, having improved vastly since the beginning of the season.