Cantabs faced fourth placed Beccles at Sedley Taylor Road in this league encounter. Captain Rich Ford was forced to pull out with a shoulder injury sustained at Sudbury and Warren Cowan took his place at No 8. Irish James was captain for the day. We managed to get the better of Beccles three times last season but they had started the season well and as always, a tough match was expected.
Cantabs kicked off from the railway end on a well grassed pitch, in bright conditions. Beccles were much the quicker to settle and a combination of loose play and poor passing saw them make ground and Cantabs were at sixes and sevens as Beccles made the most of an overlap to score in the left hand corner. Their inside centre made light work of the conversion to make it 0 - 7 after just five minutes.
Virtually from the restart, Beccles made ground again, we were penalised for not rolling away but the penalty kick taken centrally from 30 metres was pushed wide. At that point Cantabs seemed to realise they were in a game and following a solid scrum, Josh put in a great kick down the left wing, which the Beccles winger could only help into touch to deny Francois following up at speed. We took a quick lineout and Francois was denied the try by the referee who called us back to retake the throw. From the lineout, Cantabs backs stretched the Beccles defence taking the ball out to the right wing, before Jack recycled the play back to the left, for Bevan Whyte to make the line in the corner. Ali's kick was wide, but Cantabs were at least on the scoreboard at 5 - 7 after ten minutes.
Cantabs broke clear from the restart through Francois who clung onto the ball with two defenders trying to bring him down. At that point a fracas broke out for some reason and punches were thrown. When calm was restored Drew Tilley and a Beccles man left the field, having been shown yellow. Drew sustained a deep cut to the head and was dispatched to Addenbrookes. Cantabs were now pushing hard; we won the scrum, Warren drove on from the pick-up at No8 and bullied his way through three defenders to set up a great position for Jack and the backs. Josh ran the ball out to the right into the 22 then put Ali away with a great switched pass back inside, to give our full-back his first try of the season. This time Ali made no mistake and Cantabs were ahead 12 - 7 with a quarter of the game gone.
Then on 25 minutes Cantabs had the move of the match. A lineout on the left just inside the Beccles half was plucked out of the air by Bevan, he fed Warren Cowan who sprinted round the line to the blindside and straight down the touchline to score in the corner. Again Ali made the conversion to give us some breathing space at 19 -7.
Both sides were then restored to full numbers; Euan Wilder on as a replacement for Drew. A high ball into our half was not gathered cleanly by Ali, who could not resist attempting to regain the loose ball and was penalised for offside. The Beccles kicker kicked the penalty from more than 40m out to make the score 19 - 10.
Shortly after the restart, Josh pushed another lovely grubber kick down the left hand touchline, which saw Francois and his opposite number competing for virtually on the Beccles line. Warren was soon on the scene, stole the ball and dived over for yet another try in the corner; our fourth of the half and gaining a bonus point for the first time this season. Ali hit another superb conversion from the touchline to bring the score to 26 - 10.
Warren, Perksy, Jonnie and Dave Evershed were now causing all manner of problems for the Beccles defenders and it was Francois again who threatened on the left when the ball was moved wide, just picking up a pass at his toes to dart forward and hold on until support arrived. As the half reached its conclusion, Cantabs were well on top, with their forwards out scrummaging, and out mauling the opposing pack; a great half after a slow start.
As the second half got under way there was a sharp shower that greeted the teams, but thankfully it was short-lived. Cantabs hacked through into the Beccles 22 where their full-back knocked on. Our scrum was just too much for Beccles and Warren broke away to the right, where Josh took over and appeared to score in the corner. The referee was alerted to a foot in touch however and reversed his decision to award the lineout on 5m. Beccles cleared the danger only to see Ali run the ball straight back at them.
The next scrum on our put-in was held in as the pack made ground. Half the Beccles pack was not bound, but it was their blindside flanker that caught the referee's eye in particular and he left the field for ten minutes. Jack put the kick in the corner. Mikey threw to Luke in the line who off-loaded back to Mikey and his drive saw him make the line only ro be adjudged held up.
A succession of assaults on the Beccles line came to nothing, with the opposition somehow thwarting two scrums on 5m to finally come away with the ball to clear the danger. Cantabs could not make the numerical advantage tell and as the ten minutes penalty was running out Mick made a couple of changes. Perksy was replaced by Shane Rea and a limping Bevan gave way to Ian Watkins.
Next attack from Cantabs was instigated by Irish James with a searching kick to the left hand corner which their winger could only kick out for a lineout to Cantabs just 10m out from the line. Luke caught the throw and this time it was Dave Evershed who burst through the cover defence to stretch out a long arm as he dived forward to touch down in the corner. Ali missed the kick but try number five had brought the score to 31 - 10.
Cantabs were soon back on the attack and a penalty kick from Jack found touch seven metres out from the Beccles line. Again the lineout worked a treat and yet again Warren forced his way over following a driving maul. However, a defender had got his hand under the ball and Cantabs moved back for the five metre scrum. The scrums went uncontested at this point and despite a protest from Mick, the referee did not insist on Beccles losing a player. As a consequence the advantage was gone, and Beccles scrambled the ball out of danger. First Simon Hallissey then Mikey Goode both threatened to score but Beccles were defending well and for the first time in half an hour were now in our half.
For the last few minutes, Perksy came back on to take up the No 8 position, and it is fair to say that Rich Ford has nothing to fear, but equally as Perksy pointed out Rich can't prop. Time ran out with no further score, and this win takes Cantabs further up the division, now just one point behind Beccles in sixth place. Warren Cowan was deservedly voted man of the match.
Next week we are at home to Old Brentwoods, so if last season is anything to go by when we scored 70 points, a chance for our backs to show what they can do. Cantabs put out three sides this weekend for the first time in the season, things are really on the up again!