Cantabs 2's travelled to Ely with a point to prove this weekend, having come away from a sizeable defeat to the hosts the previous Saturday. The rain over the last few days had softened the Ely pitch, but cleared for the 80 minutes, giving both sides a chance to play some running rugby.
Cantabs kicked off the game in to the Ely half, and took the match to the home team right away. The first 5 minutes was a signal of intent, with the 2's closing down Ely ball, dominating the scrums and securing the ball well at the line outs. After a high tempo 10 minutes, Ely's big centre succumbed to a hamstring injury. Cantabs were able to secure a well drilled line out on the Ely 5, and easily pass the ball through the hands for joe to take a try under the posts. Jack took the extras and we found ourselves ahead.
Immediately Ely rallied and made their way to the cantabs 22, where some misjudged involvement in the ruck gave the home side a penalty, which they chose to kick at goal. 7-3, and perhaps a sign that the cantabs defence had already proved a point.
Our second try came from some unbelievable handling from Simon, somehow managing to juggle a pass and dodge a tackle simultaneously. He broke through with just the fullback to beat, and found both Ben and Finn in support. Some good linking play ended with both defenders on the floor and Finn running in his first under the posts. Jack made it 14-3 and cantabs started to turn the screw.
Discipline wained a little in the last 10 minutes of the first half, an area of the game we'd be strong in for the first 30, but we regrouped and ran at Ely again, with Shane asserting his power and scoring before the end of the first half. We went in to the break 21-3 up, determined to carry this momentum into the second 40.
Nat and Ash stepped in for Ed and Julian, both of whom had proved their worth in the first half.
Ely rarely troubled us for the second half, and Euan often took the ball in hand, punishing the gaps in the doglegging Ely defence to great effect. Support from the forwards at the rucks was readily available, with Danny James stealing ball on multiple occasions.
In the scrums we were still doing the hard work, with the Ely loosehead failing to bind on multiple occasions. Our discipline held however, and the ref started sending decisions our way, a rare change from the usual state of play.
It wasn't long before Finn crossed again, coming into the back line from full back and skirting the defenders. Soon after we added another 7 points, after multiple phases of strong running and good support. Euan shipped the ball left to Mikey running at pace, straight into a gap to touch down.
We kept the pressure on and Finn secured a third after more direct running. Unfortunately whilst three tries were definitely scored, no evidence of a jug purchase was seen. A great effort from the fullback, and Denman decided to give someone else a chance at some points.
Wayne, Matt, Tim, Flax and all joined the fray, eager to make an impact on play.
With 15 minutes to go Ely lost their 10 to the sin bin after a disagreement at the breakdown, and cantabs pushed to capitalise on the extra man. Matt brown took try number 7 after more solid handling and good communication from our backline.
The next try came from a well drilled line out, all of our calls had generally been going well, and we'd stolen the Ely line out ball multiple times too. This time around a convincing dummy shuffled the Ely front pod backwards, only for Shane to pivot and receive a direct ball from Danny. Shane brushed off the defenders and scored easily, looking very much at home in his new position.
Our final points came from el capitano. Wayne made a great break down the right wing, finding Euan in support once again. Euan made a few more yards before cutting back inside to Denman, who steamrollered the fullback he'd been flirting with all game.
Despite the run of play, Ely somehow spent the last few minutes camped On the cantabs 5 metre line. Our grit and determination however saw us flying off the try line in defence, shutting down any attempts they made at running the ball.
The final whistle went, final score 61-3, and a great start to our league campaign. Jack Sykes deserves a mention, 8 out of 9 attempts on goal and looking suited to his role at scrum half. Also credit due to Chris Cutler who had a storming debut for the club.
Man of the match - Euan. Dick of the day - Nat.