Cantabrigian 2nd XV 39 - 36 Cottenham Renegades.
Having started pre-season fitness training in late May with full squad coaching commencing in early July, last season seems like a long time ago. Since then Cantabs have had to say goodbye to some members, but thankfully we have been able to welcome a whole host more.
The second team this year leave the merit league structure and begin their career in Eastern Counties 2. What better way to prepare for this challenge than with a fixture against local rivals and EC2 competitors Cottenham Renegades!
We begin the match on a sunny afternoon, in front of plenty of support and immediately it is Cottenham on the attack. Ten minutes pinned back in our own 22, and the Cantabs defence holds strong, with the defence keeping themselves organised and allowing no Renegade through. Eventually ball is turned over and the clearance is made. A bit of scrappy open play leads to a Cantabs scrum, which holds strong and earns the home team a penalty. A quick tap and the ball is offloaded through 3 or 4 sets of hands before no. 8 Ian charges his way over the line. 5-0
Minutes later we are back in the Cantabs 22, the scrum this time going to Gades. The pressure comes cantabs way, the ball is fumbled at the back of the scrum in slight panic and Cottenham are there to pick up the pieces. A simple conversion to make the score 5-7 after 15 minutes.
Not 2 minutes later and Renegades have another scrum in the Cantabs half. They have brought their big pack with them and they disrupt our set piece again. A pick up from the Cottenham no. 8 puts us on the back foot and good passing hands from the opposition coupled with a few poor tackling efforts allows the visitors over the line again. 5-14
Having sprung into life a little again, Cantabs start to work their way back towards the Cottenham try line. After a few phases, the call for ball out wide is made and quick and efficient hands delivers the ball from Joe to skipper Nat to Kaz to Alex and finally to stalwart on the wing Robbo, who gets the touchdown in the corner. 10 - 14
As we enter the last minutes off the first half, Cantabs find themselves struggling with discipline in their own half. A line out 10 metres out is deemed inappropriate due to a dummy throw. Renegades call the scrum, and continue to pile on the pressure. Once again Cantabs are penalised at the set piece and Cottenham have a free-kick in the shadow of the posts. This time our defence does not hold out to the physicality of the opposition and the half time whistle blows after the conversion, the score 10-21
A few half time changes - the ever reliable Ben Tozer gives way to new recruit Darren at prop, in an attempt to narrow the weight difference between the front rows. Danny James strolls off for a little sit down and a chunder so Jonny moves to Hooker with Skeggs coming into the flanker spot after a season or so off. At fullback the youthfulness of Shepherd yields to the experience of Wayne Moss.
Cantabs kick off the second half and the ball is collected by flanker Skeggs. Again Cantabs play the offload game and within seconds of the whistle Ian Watkins is over for his second of the game. A fitting outcome for the no. 8 playing his last game in a Cantabs shirt before his move to South Africa. 15-21
James Robbo leaves the field at this point to make way for another promising youngster - Craig and openside responsibility is handed over from Fraser to James Bird. During open play Cantabs are penalised for putting their mitts in the ruck and the Cottenham kicker continues his good form, putting the scoreboard to 15-24
The ball having gone dead at the end of a Cantabs attacking phase, Cottenham restart the game with a 22-drop out. The ball is plucked out of the air by giant Owen and offloaded to Keith for one of his trademark hard-hitting runs. 10 metres out and Cantabs attack right with the forwards, a couple of phases later and it the ball is put through Kaz to Craig on the wing, who immediately injects pace and scores in the corner, 4 minutes after being fielded. 20-24
Cantabs are settling into their attacking game and the next score comes not long later. After the ball is moved blind at the breakdown, Jonny Heaver receives it at pace as he cuts an inside line back in at pace, all the way to the try line. 25-24
Lovett leaves the field with cramp issues and the versatile Kaz steps in at 10. Speedy winger Rhys comes on and Alex moves into the vacant centre position. 3rd team skipper Tom Heaver joins the pitch to give Owen a rest. Immediately we see Alex is in his natural position and his running is hard and direct. Cantabs make their way again into the Renegades territory and the ball is shipped wide to Craig. A sidestep, dummy and a little dance and somehow he finds a path through the opposition to touch down under the posts. Joe slots the conversion. 32-24
Renegades are not content and start to pile the pressure back on. A great kick leads to a line out on the Cantabs 5. Not straight, so the scrum ensues. Although Cantabs win the set piece, our no. 9 gets engulfed at the back of the scrum and Cottenham come away with the ball and an easy try. 32 - 29
The game is delivering end to end action. Cottenham bullying Cantabs with big runners and Cantabs moving the ball through the available space. Debutant Darren gets the ball and barges his way through 3 or 4 tiring players in red. From the breakdown Joe slips a little out-the-back pass to Kaz who has one objective, which he competently completes, sliding over the line to extend the lead. 39-29
The final score of the game comes from a Cottenham attack. From the breakdown their player (later named man of the match) throws an outrageous dummy, opening himself a hole. He gets the ball away and Cottenham secure their 5th try of the game. 39-36
An enjoyable game of rugby for all involved, and a great day down at the club. The 2s have many good points to take away from todays game, as well as some point to work on. The new players who stepped up this week did made quite an impression and we welcome them to the Cantabs family.
Man Of The Match - Ian Watkins - For todays brilliant game and for the great things he has brought to the club over the last couple of years.
Dick Of The Day - Mike Denman - Cantabs 2's skipper who has found himself in hospital with a ruptured kidney a week ahead of the start of the season.
Next week our Eastern Counties 2 adventure begins as we host Sawston at Sedley Taylor Road.