With the Old Brentwoods pitch under water, Cantabs were happy to host the fixture, and were able to field the same pack as last week. A couple of changes in the backs however, with Irish James and Sammi unavailable; Pedro Pascal and Simon Hallissey were in the starting line-up. Old Brentwood had enjoyed a good run of victories following a poor start to their season, with some notable scalps; so a tough game was expected.
1OB licked off towards the railway on a rather soggy pitch which was bound to cut up following the heavy rain on Friday. Both teams were in blue and white hoops, so identification was at times difficult from the touchline. The early pressure came from Cantabs, with our scrum dominating the early exchanges. An OB penalty kick for the corner was acrobatically tapped back into play by Charlie Searle, for Francois Eve to clear with a kick to our 10m line. The lineout was won by Bevan Whyte and our rolling maul moved play down the left wing into the OB 22, Play moved across to the right and OB offended; Jack Sykes taking a quick tap, gained another penalty for the defender not retreating 10m. Rich Ford opted for a scrum 10m out from the line. Cantabs duly won the ball and the scrum moved inexorably towards the try line. Just as we reached the line their flanker, broke his bind and hacked the ball away. Penalty try awarded, which Jack converted to make the score 7 - 0 and just under ten minutes gone.
The OB restart was caught by a soaring Charlie who also caught an Essex boot to the back of his head in the ensuing ruck, and left the field to be replaced by Jonnie Heaver. Cantabs then got their backs moving first down the left where Pedro Pascal attacked strongly towards the 22, before recycling the ball for an attack out to the right. Cantabs were not having it all their own way, however, and OB started to show how dangerous their backs could be. OB switched the play from just outside our 22 on the left with some lovely handling along the line, finally releasing their right winger who evaded his tacklers to dive over for a score in the corner. The try was not converted, but OB had signalled their intentions to run the ball at us. 7 - 5 now and game on!
A heavily bandaged Charlie replaced Jonnie at hooker. Play moved back up to the OB 22, when Francois caught a high kick deep in our half, out-sprinted a couple of tacklers down the right and chipped the ball over the defender who could only shepherd it into touch. Rich Ford snaffled the lineout, but it was to be his last meaningful contribution as he left the field clutching his side, to be replaced by Ben James at No 8. OB infringed at the ruck, we opted for a scrum, only 7 metres out, and after several attempts to get it set the scrum was won, trundled forward, the OB flanker again tried to boot the ball out. Same result a penalty try and Jack got the extra two points to make it 14 - 5, with 32 minutes on the clock.
Simon Hallissey was next to leave the field feeling an injury from the previous week, and Will Parry took his place. Cantabs had yet another chance to make it a hat trick of scrum tries before half time, with OB yet again in panic mode; but two over-eager forwards went for the same ball just as the scrum reached the try line and knocked on.
No further changes at half time, but initially OB made all the running. Then on the edge of our 22, we won a penalty for offside at the ruck, their No 8 had a discussion with the referee and we moved to 32 metres where Jack struck a lovely kick practically up to the OB 22. Charlie threw short to Dave Evershed, Shed made ground and then passed out to a supporting Charlie on the touchline, who raced forward with Jack in support. Charlie dummied his pass, outfoxing the defence and dived over for a great try in the corner. No luck for Jack with the conversion, but a bit of daylight now at 19 - 5 fifteen minutes into the half.
Next attack saw Warren Cowan back to his best with a punishing run through defenders on the right. He was half tackled by their winger, and tried to get his looped pass away, but it was adjudged forward and OB, lucky them, had a scrum on their 5m line. We managed to mess up this time and the very next attack saw another chance spurned as Cantabs back line ignored an overlap by cutting inside rather than continuing the passes out to the left wing.
Cantabs had another try refused as Bevan was adjudged to have made two moves, following another great drive from Shed. Jonnie now replaced Isaia.
However the fourth try was not long delayed when another great penalty kick from Jack took us to the 5m line on the right wing once more, the catch and drive followed, and Jonnie Heaver was the beneficiary as the maul did its job. 24 -5; again the conversion dragged wide of the left hand post.
OB were now on the rack each time a scrum was awarded. The next one followed our knock on just inside the OB 22. The Cantabs scrum rocketed forward with OB in total disarray. Ben James picked up the ball, hesitated then strolled forward to touch down unopposed to the left of the posts. Jack again couldn't make the extras, but the game was effectively over. Final score 29 - 5.
Full credit to Old Brentwoods for offering to play us at Sedley Taylor Road. Cantabs consolidate their second place in the division. Our forwards were again awesome and despite some speedy backs, OB never really had an answer to the power of the pack. My man of the match was Charlie for some good lineout throwing, for being part of the front row, and of course that try from 20 metres out.
We are back at Sedley Taylor Road again next week when Wanstead are the visitors in our penultimate home league fixture.