Wanstead were the visitors at Sedley Taylor Road in this latest London 3NE encounter. The match in London had been a close affair, so Cantabs needed to be on their metal. Captain Rich Ford and flanker Dan Searle had picked up injuries and Warren Cowan was appointed captain in their absence. Two changes at wing also with youngsters Paul Graddage and Harri Beasley making a welcome return to the side.
It was in perfect conditions that Cantabs kicked off from the railway end; a soft pitch and bright sunlight making it a good day for a game of rugby. Cantabs were soon pressing with Paul Graddage making the decisive break down the right wing bringing play to within a few metres of the Wanstead line. From the ruck, Ben James dived over for the try. No conversion from Jack Sykes from wide out, but two minutes on the clock and the score 5 - 0.
Wanstead put the restart kick straight out and this gave the Cantabs pack a chance to demonstrate their scrummaging. The Wanstead scrum half did his utmost to disrupt his opposite number and Cantabs struggled to get their back line operating. Next attack came from a well worked lineout on halfway, with Warren taking the ball from a Bevan Whyte catch and storming down the left hand touchline, before he was bungled into touch ten metres out. Wanstead failed to get any distance on their clearance and another clean catch this time from Luke Munby set up the rolling maul. Again Warren came off the back to bully his way over the line for what appeared to be another try; but by the time the referee got around to the blindside a Wanstead hand was under the ball. The first scrum from 5m was touched down by the visitors, but they were penalised for standing up. Cantabs went for a second scrum and No 8 Ben James shot around the scrum to touch down for his second. Jack's kick hit the post and stayed out, but Cantabs were on the way at 10 - 0.
Two minutes later with Stead trying to get their backs moving, James McCaughran intercepted a telegraphed pass on halfway and outpaced the cover defence to score under the posts. No problem for Jack from close in and the score moved on to 17 - 0.
Immediately after, Irish James nearly did it again, intercepting a pass on the Wanstead 10m line and making it to the 22 before being tackled this time. Cantabs were not to be denied and it was Ben James again that made the line this time from the back of the maul after a catch and drive following a penalty kick into the right hand corner. Jack's conversion from wide out was good and Cantabs had the bonus point at 24 - 0.
Another lineout and drive quickly followed, same result, same scorer! Again Jack made the extra points to take us to 31 - 0. Wanstead were just not handling our lineouts and despite attempts to disrupt our scrum, their pack was having a torrid time. Only their big No 8 posed a threat with his surging runs, and when their backs got the ball our defence was solid. Cantabs were reduced to fourteen when Euan played the ball on the ground at a ruck close to our line in a rare Wanstead extended spell of pressure inside our 22, Wanstead then had a double disaster. Their hooker received a red card for swearing at the referee following a fracas on the touchline, then they lost a prop to a yellow card. The uncontested scrums that followed rather upset Cantabs game plan and despite their numerical disadvantage the Wanstead backs came more into the game.
Two changes at half time Isaia Barbieri replacing Jonnie Heaver at loose head and Pete Collins on for Luke at flanker. Dave Evershed with a powerful break and Jon Perks with a follow up run into the Wanstead 22, promised to continue the scoring but we were penalised for not releasing. Then Warren with another great run into the 22, got his looped pass away for Cantabs to touch down; only to have the try disallowed as the pass was adjudged forward. Euan returned to bring us up to a full compliment and shortly afterwards Finlay it was that made the decisive break down the left, got his pass away just as he was tackled, and Harri Beasley in support dived over ten metres from the left hand post. Jack again made the extra two points, and Cantabs looked to be sailing again at 38 - 0. Ben James, after a knock to his knee took a well earned break with 20 minutes to go, Jonnie Heaver taking his place. Simon Hallissey replaced Francois and from that point Cantabs were camped in the Wanstead 22 for nearly 10 minutes but never really looked like adding to the score. The Wanstead backs came more and more into the game as Cantabs appeared to sit back on their lead.
Into the last ten minutes, Jonnie Heaver was the next man to get a yellow card. Their No 8 ran at us yet again beating three tackles before he was brought down 5m out. Wanstead recycled the ball smartly and finally scored a well deserved try to the right of our posts. No luck with their conversion, and that was that, Cantabs running out time to finish at 38 - 5. A disappointing second half from our men but a final result we would have taken before the game; our best result against Stead since we came into this league.
Cantabs consolidated their 2nd position with this victory and now two away fixtures at Beccles and Upminster follow. Good results from these and we are in with a great chance of promotion. Next home game will be against promotion rivals Old Cooperians on April 5th.