Cantabrigians latest sponsor, Cambridge based mobile payments and analytics company - Bango, joined us as we welcomed Harlow to Sedley Taylor Road. As usual this was expected to be a tough encounter against the men from Essex. Cantabs were bouyed by the return of Ali McCormick, Waren Cowan, Bevan Whyte, James McCaughran back into the side and the evergreen Chik Knox-Macaulay taking up one of the places on the bench
Cantabs kicked off towards the railway end and had to absorb some pressure from the Essex side. Harlow start well and with purpose, running the ball hard and putting in some big hits in defence. Some good defence from the home side resulted in a penalty awarded to Cantabs. Ali, picking up the kicking duties on his return from injury, stepped up to make it 3 - nil to the home side after 12 minutes. Cantabs started to get more into the game with some bulldozing runs from Jon Perks and Warren Cowan. After 20 minutes Rich Ford suffered a nasty cut to his eye and was temporarily replaced by Luke Munby while stitches were being applied to the skipper. Rich, fully patched up, returned to the game with Cantabs deep in the Harlow half.
Perksy went on another of his marauding runs, bouncing off would be tacklers before finally being brought down inside the Harlow 22. One phase later the flying Frenchman Francois picked up from the base of the ruck and strolled in under the posts to round off an excellent passage of play from the Cantabs. Ali made the straight forward conversion to make the score 10 points to nil.
Harlow restarted the game but some good driving by the Cantabs pack had Harlow on the back foot, Euan was controlling the game well and putting in some telling kicks, finding touch at will. Following another indiscretion at the breakdown Harlow were penalised and Ali yet again stepped up to make it 13 nil at half time. At this stage the referee was losing patience with both sides and issued a general team warning regarding penalties, the next one and it will be a yellow.
No changes were made at half time and Cantabs were looking in control of the game, however Harlow are a good side and they kicked off with real purpose in their stride. Harlow really upped the tempo of their play and scored a deserving try after some good interplay, and a well worked rolling maul. The conversion, just left of the posts was missed making the score 13 - 5, game on with 30 minutes still remaining.
Head Coach Mick Jones rung the changes with Luke Munby replacing Joe Allison at flanker and Chik replacing Euan. James McCaughran moving to fly half with Chik taking up his customary inside centre role. Cantabs went on the attack immediately using the powerful Chik down the middle, with the forwards starting to get back on top again.
The referee was true to his word and although it was his first offence Luke took a 10 minute rest for not releasing at the tackle area. Harlow were getting back into the game but for some resolute defence from Cantabs could of scored again. Harlow's numerical advantage was short lived as, on gaining their own final warning, one of the Harlow back line chose not to roll away from a tackle on their 5m line, leaving the referee with no option but show his next yellow card.
Luke returned after his sin binning and now Cantabs were pressurising the Harlow line. Following a defending scrum on their 5m line, an under pressure Harlow tried to run the ball out from behind the try line, and the resulting poor pass was swooped on by Francois who picked up his second try of the match. Ali again made sure of the extra points with an excellent kick from the touchline making it 20 - 5
Harlow were back up to the full compliment of 15 players and were playing some good rugby but time and again Cantabs held out with some dogged defence. The injury curse that has plagued Cantabs throughout the season struck again with 15 minutes remaining, Irish and Isaia who was having another fine game in the front row both carried off. Shane Rea replacing Isaia and Euan returning to replace Irish at fly half.
Cantabs went on another attack down the middle of the park with some good handling from the back line and were awarded another penalty. Again, Ali took the points on offer.
With 5 minutes on the clock Chik was shown a yellow card for not rolling away at the breakdown but Harlow could not make use of the numerical advantage, and Cantabs held out for the remainder of the game winning by 23 - 5.
Harlow are a well coached, organised side and to win by 23 - 5 was no mean feat. All the players stepped up to the mark and put in a very impressive performance.
Let's hope the injuries suffered are not too serious and do not add to the long list of injuries. The next two weeks we are away to top of the league Sudbury, first up next Saturday in the Senior Vase followed by the league fixture again away to Sudbury.
Thanks goes to Head Coach Mick Jones for writing up the match report in Nigel's absence.