After a long lay off with the bad weather, Saturday couldn't come soon enough for the Cantabs second team to make the short hop over to Granchester for a local derby with old rivals Cambridge. This week they didn't appear as old as we've come to expect and maybe the days of playing against the former stars of their 1st xv have passed with many of the regular 'Vanguards' missing and replaced with younger models from the academy. With both the President and Chairman of CRUFC on the sideline spectating it was certainly a good chance for them to catch the eye.
Following an excellent warm up on an immaculate playing surface we settled in for what was expected to be a hard game of rugby and it certainly lived up to it's billing. From the first scrum Cantabs had the huge Cambridge pack in all manner of trouble at the set piece charging them back at a rate of knots, a theme which continued for the full 80 minutes.
An excellent early try from Alex SW and it seemed that Cantabs were playing all of the rugby with Cambridge relying on the boot of their fly half, who was to have an excellent game, kicking from hand to relieve pressure. Strong carries from Denman and the forward pack resulted in Shane barrelling over halfway only to be stopped 5m out with a desperate tackle. Sustained pressure from Cantabs resulted in a line out which delivered a try from a textbook maul. The backrow of Luke and Henry were tearing around the pitch in a fierce battle with their opposite numbers, supported by Justin Picamoles at number 8 with all three showing great fitness. Yet another strong drive from the pack was moved to the centres and Simon scored under the posts, receiving a late hit after having grounded the ball, giving the guilty Cambridge player a ten minute break. Alan once again showed his pace and strength on the wing with a score out wide which is becoming a regular event - when will he not score?!
A late hit on Tozer in the 75th minute from the Cambridge prop left us wondering if he would land on the 1st xv pitch or the clubhouse roof, luckily he left the field intact but a little shaken having had another excellent game, at centre and back row. He was soon followed by the Cambridge prop following a collision with hooker Mikey Goode which caused a small tremor felt throughout Cambridgeshire. Immovable object met with unstoppable force.
Ominously the home side appeared to score from every mistake made by the visitors, including a couple of slick tries out wide from their rapid wing and they were now holding onto the ball and battering the Cantabs defence which held firm, with Alex SW putting in a series of excellent cover tackles as the pressure peaked. A late try from another driving line out and yet another excellent conversion from Simon and the game looked won for Cantabs with only a couple of minutes to go. With just a clearing kick needed from within the 22 on the last play of the game, there was a mix up in the Cantab ranks leading to the kick being charged down and home side racing through to score. Needing the conversion to win the Cambridge fly half stepped up and slotted it between the uprights. A massively frustrating end to the game, and scoring 30 points and losing the match is a bitter pill to swallow but Cambridge are a good side and it was a quality game, certainly way above social rugby standard. Special mention for the Ref who I thought was outstanding.