This Saturday marked the start of the 2nd round of fixtures in the Greene King Premier League. Having started the season with a big win over at Ely's home ground, the 2nd team were hopeful of repeating their success as the Tiger's development side travelled down to Sedley Taylor Road.
With players returning back to fitness throughout the club, this seemed to me to be the strongest second team side I have fielded in the last couple of seasons - 10 of the players had represented the 1st XV this season so far. With enough numbers for our third team to represent as well, we were without subs.
Ely kicked off with the sun in their eyes, and immediately Cantabs took control of the game. The first 10 minutes were spent in the opposition half as we settled into our game plan and finally made our way over the line. From then on, it was one way traffic. It seemed that every restart that Ely sent our way was converted into points, and by half-time the score was 45-0 to the home side. The second half continued in the same way, with Cantabs scoring a total of 17 tries. I could not keep track of who scored and how many! Lovett had his kicking boots on this week, and converted 14 of these.
There were so many positives to take from Saturday's game. Our scrummaging was exemplary, three tries came from turning over opposition ball and driving over the line (despite the monster size of their props). It was great to have Shane Rea back in the fold having just returned from a hand injury and Mikey Goode with us this week having spent the majority of the season proving his worth with the first team (I heard someone on the sideline describe Goode as the Eddie Stobart of the team after he smashed through 4 defenders for the final try). Line-outs were also back on form with vice-captain Domeisen returning to steal all manner of opposition ball.
It was Champagne rugby all round, with many tries coming after the ball had been through 5, 6, 7 plus sets of hands - a testament to the work coaches Mick and John have put in with the squad at training sessions. With the quality of skill and communication on display from such back-liners as James, Simon and Drew, there were very few times when the ball left the pack and a try was not scored.
Our defensive objective was simple - we do not let them score. Ely managed to keep hold of the ball a couple of times, and one or twice a tackle was broken, but Cantabs refused to let them near their target. Then, with a simple 2 on 1 standing between us and another try, Nat managed to pop the ball straight into the hands of the opposition winger, who paced his way under the posts to give Ely their consolation. Obviously Nat was Dick Of The Day, but he did score a nice try minutes later by sidestepping the Ely fullback.
It is easy to switch off in a game once you have secured a big advantage, so huge credit is due to every player for remaining hungry for more, not becoming lazy and for lasting the full game.
Man of the match could have gone to a number of players - Ollie Rust bossed the whole game from scrum half, Irish James displayed his usual top quality and Shane put in the hand off of the season. In the end the accolade went to Ben Tozer - he scored 2 in this game and has been on top form throughout the season. Whether in the front row, back row or back line, you always notice The Tozer Show when he is on the pitch.
A mention must also go to Wayne Moss who came down to support but ended up running a marathon on the touchline with the flag.
Next week we face March at home - another big win required to undo the loss earlier in the season at the Bear's home ground and a chance to climb up the league table.