On Saturday we faced Bury 3s. Another team that had won their first two games and looked like a league contender for this season.
Looking a bit more mobile than the Sawston and March squads we had come across recently, this was looking like it was going to be a tight game before it started, and indeed it was.
It was refreshing to see our second team in a game that was a bit quicker and free flowing and early on in the fixture both teams managed to a get a score in through their backs. Bury could not find their way through for our tackling, but they managed to get around us and plopped one down on the wing. Not long later though Cantabs were on the ball and an inspired kick by Simon found its way trickling over the opposition try line. A foot race was on between Harri chasing the kick and their fullback dropping to cover - Harri got there just half a second first and got his fingertips to the ball to score our first (unconverted) points. 5-7
When it came to scrum time, we could see from the sideline that Bury were organised. Not a massive pack, but they looked tight and well-practiced and indeed they disrupted our scrum on a number of occasions.
20 minutes in and all of Skegg's hard tackling had taken its toll. After the referee practiced his hypnotising act, he declared that Skeggs needed to leave the pitch. Not long after this Luke took a nasty twist to the ankle in a tackle and within the first half we had lost them both - meaning that the line out we had spent 15 minutes practicing before the game had now been disrupted. Our pack was now starting to come off second best at set pieces.
With the amount of ball they had, Bury should probably have got another few scores in, but Cantabs defence was holding out well. Ed SD, Dave and in particular Ollie were all over the park doing their job as back row and the back line were shutting the opposition down before they got all their momentum up. Despite this Bury managed to get one more in before half time, kicking over the top to find some space behind our ranks and sending a runner through. 5-12.
Unfortunately, despite it seeming like we had the better of our opposition in the backs, Cantabs never really settled into their attacking game. Far too many times we had big forward runners standing in the 9/10 channel or the 10/12 channel and the ball was just getting crashed up and sometimes lost, instead of it going out wide to our backs with those forwards in support. Communication was also lacking and it just didn't look like the 2s had turned up with the same spirit in which they had played last week.
Eventually things started moving. Chris coming on at fly half had changed our game a little bit, playing more of a kicking game and disorganising the opposition. Enough for Harri to find himself with the ball and enough space for one of his trademark steps. He darted through a few players and made his way over the line, a great try.
At half time, Sir had given us a warning about discipline at the ruck. Having just come on the pitch, Ed made his way to a breakdown and legally in my view, tried to steal the ball and ended up knocking it out of the opposition 9s hands as he came in. The ref pulled out a yellow and we were to spend 10 minutes with a man down. It took a while, but eventually Bury took advantage, leaving us with twenty minutes to play catch up on the first team pitch. 10-19
We battled out the last quarter, and played some of the best running rugby that we had done all game, but we were unable to convert it into points. Eventually it got to the last play of the match - a penalty to us in the opposition 22. We opted to kick, and Chris sent the ball onto the railway tracks to secure us a losing bonus point.
Some players really stood out this week: Ollie Lewis was everywhere - each time I looked at who made the last tackle it was him. Dave O Neil has looked awesome all pre-season and it was great to see him finally in a match and looking just as good - a real strong runner and tackler. Ed Scott-Dickins came on and off the pitch a couple of times, but was really working hard and looked quality out there. Chris West has come into the fold and laid down a real marker, making selection for Fly Half a real headache for the coaches. Alex White has been quality every single week. Harri continued his scoring run. Craig and Chris K were playing well, but not getting enough ball.
Losing by 6 points and picking up a bonus point to a strong team who were playing well is nothing at all to be ashamed of. Last time we faced Bury Wolves we were on the end of a 122-0 pummelling, so that's a huge step forward for us. This shouldn't be too much of a blot on our league campaign either, but after the game the squad were feeling pretty downbeat about the loss. No surprise after the big victories of the last few weeks - take that feeling into next Saturday's cup fixture and put right the wrongs of this week.
A few things to work on - Communication and Intensity, starting from the warm up. Forwards supporting backs, rather than pretending to be them. Winning the set piece. Moving the ball wide.
Man Of The Match - Ollie Lewis was, in my view, the best player on the pitch by a margin.
Dick Of The Day - Skipper Nat. Maybe a lack of leadership on the pitch, but more importantly left the kit sitting outside the clubhouse all night...