Having made it through this season's league campaign, Cantabrigians 2nd XV found themselves facing Newmarket's Development squad at home for their final GK Premiere League fixture. A team they had beaten twice earlier this season.
With the Cantabs family out in full force (1st XV at Campion and 3rd XV at Saffron Walden) the 2s were keen for a big home win to finish on. Conditions were good for running rugby, wind was light, our squad looked younger and fitter and the support on the touch line had the team targeting a 40 point win before kick-off.
From the off it looked as though things were going to go our way, and it didn't take long before the points started coming. Our back line this week were moving the ball with ease into space when attacking and closing down any moves of the opposition's before they developed - co-ordinated by Drew Tilley on a welcome return from a rib injury.
Our line outs were functioning well, with Ian back in the mix co-ordinating several successful attacks and Danny hitting the mark every time. Ollie peeled from the back of one successful drive to score in the first half, and Danny James had smashed through a disorganised defence a couple of minutes before hand. Ben Tozer played an absolute stormer, as he has all season, scoring 2 tries in the 60 minutes he was on the field and proving why his name comes up every year in the discussions over player of the season.
Owen Lewis stepped in at outside centre this week, displaying his top rugby skills and game knowledge. A true utility player, he has played most positions in the back line and back row and is a welcome sight on any team sheet. Thanks too to the guest that Owen brought along this week, Gareth Turner who stepped onto the wing at half time, scored a brilliant try, set up a couple more and has a fantastic beard.
Owen McIntosh has been a great addition to the squad this season, he works so hard all game and scored a well-deserved try by crashing through the defence in the second half, their small backs having no chance of taking down this striding giant. Owen will be missed when he returns to Manchester after this season. The same will be said of Mark Coteman when he leaves us - one of our hardest runners and most aggressive players, everyone smiles when they know he is on the park. Unfortunately this week, in possibly his last game for the club, Mark has been stripped of the nickname that has stuck for seasons - Beast, and will now be called Daisy after being demolished in a tackle by his opposite number. The sight of Beast being flipped over like a fairy even caused the skipper to burst into laughter, when he was expecting the opposite to happen.
Talking of which, Dick of The Day this week goes to Mike Denman who found himself at the end of an overlap. Superb hands through the attacking line had drawn all the defence in and the ball was delivered perfectly to the captain, who had nothing but 2 yards of grass between him and the try line. It may be that Denman was already planning his celebration or maybe he had a momentary stroke, but the dropped ball was something so shameful that even a slap from Keith would have been deserved.
Newmarket's scrum was very strong. We could not cope with them up front, and what their big, experienced players lacked in mobility around the park, they made up for in power when needed. The opposition's points came in the second half when their line-out was collected and driven over our line - a token to show for the effort they put in at the set piece.
A special mention to Rhys Slough who has been at Cantabs for a few years now, but can finally call this win his first victory for the club! A great half on the wing, strong running and smart play - the curse is finally broken! Credit also to our 9-10 combo - Josh delivering quick ball all game to keep the game going and Lovett using his boot with his natural precision.
Flankers were also excellent this week, with Luke on his usual form, ripping ball everywhere and scoring a great try in support of our centre runners. Man of the match goes to no. 7 Ollie Lewis, who has recently returned to Cantabs after some time spent travelling. Everywhere you looked Ollie was making tackles, turning over ball or charging forward in attack - scoring 2 tries. We're looking forward to what is to come from Ollie in the future.
A great day for the second team who finish fifth in the 2013-2014 league. With a points difference of + 197, we consider this a very good season. For the next campaign we will continue to improve and turn this season's very close games against the top 4 into Cantabs victories.
Attention now turns to cup silverware. Next week the 2s face Sawston in GK Plate semi-final, looking to join the 3rd team with a place in finals day on the 26th. On 3rd May the 2s face Newmarket again in the County Cup final.
Ben Tozer - 2 tries, Danny James - Try, Mike Denman - Try, Owen McIntosh - Try, Luke Munby - 2 tries, Drew Tilley - 2 tries, Fergus Wilson - Try, Gareth Turner - Try, Chris Lovett - 7 x Conversion + 1 x Penalty.