Saffron Walden 2s have become familiar opponents for the Cantabs 2nd team. For a good few seasons we have faced them in League, Cup and Friendly fixtures and nearly always we come out second best. We travelled away to them 2 weeks ago in the Cambs Cup competition and despite a good start, ended up being undone in the second half. They are not a team with a huge pack, like Sawston or Renegades or a bunch of whizzy youngsters like you might come across at Cambridge but a balanced efficient team who seem to pull together to the end everytime we play them. Cantabs vs Saffron Walden is always a tight game played in good spirits, and as the sun shone down on perfect conditions and spectators arrived we knew this game was going to be another good watch.
The visitors kicked off and Cantabs gathered the ball and set on their way. A few phases later and Tabs are awarded a penalty just outside the opposition 22 for an offence at the ruck. Chris West stepped up and slotted the first points of the game. A great start 3-0
The restart was recycled Waldens way and they ran at our defence for a couple of phases in our half. Not making much progress through our pack or our back line, the Walden 10 opted to kick, and slotted a very fine drop goal 3-3
Having immediately retaliated to our first score, Walden then had a spell with the ball and pushed Cantabs right back until they were defending the line. Phase after phase of organised and effective defence and Catabs finally gain a penalty. We work our way up the pitch but eventually knock on. Thanks to the skills of Jon, Cyril and Tozer returning to the squad, our scrum was functioning the best it has all season. We turned over the scrum before moving the ball wide for Joe to score in the corner! 8-3
Not long later Lovett caught a ball kicked his way by Walden and sent it back with an inspired chip down the line. The back row chase and gain a penalty when the opposition fails to deal with the ball properly. Chris steps up again and sends the ball between the uprights. 11-3
Cantabs really began to get into a stride now. With an early lead, we just needed to keep working hard to build a nice lead for half time. The forwards were working hard to secure ball when needed, and troubled Walden with hard running from Chris, Jon, Dave and Cyril. Our second try started with a Scrum, which at this point was dominating and finished with Paul Pudney touching down after Drew made the yards and got the pass away. Cracking conversion from Chris 18-3
Again Walden pin Cantabs to the line, but again the defence holds out. Walliker and Jon making a real nuisance of themselves in the ruck, I cant remember who turned the ball over. We passed the ball about and ran our way out of our half. Nat running in open play with a couple of guys outside him in support, spied a gap and put in a woeful kick straight down the throat of the opposition full back. Dick of the Day sorted then!
The second half came around - Owen brought on in the back row. Cantabs continued to trouble Walden with their defence. Drew was outstanding in commanding the back line, and with Paul he managed to shut down any attempted attack through the centres. We were turning over rucks and despite Walden boosting their front row to even it out a bit, set pieces were working. A penalty within range was awarded and Chris did the honours 21-3
We made runs, Craig breaking through a few times on the wing and Drew carving his way up the pitch on several occasions, but it was Walden who would get the next score. From a penalty they found touch deep in our 22. They recycled the line out and moved it out a couple of phases. Laurence was tackling like a demon all game and made a valiant effort to hold up the player but they touched down close to the posts. 21-10
Alex Swarty was brought on a Fullback for a hobbling Lovett and within minutes was making an impact in attack. Cantabs recycled ball just inside Waldens half and moved from Josh to Chris, Chris to Drew, Drew to Paul who crashed up and popped away to Alex coming in from deep to cross the line. Cracking conversion attempt which hit the upright. 26-10
The last fifteen minutes played out like much of the match, hard work being put in on both sides. Cantabs were looking for the four-try bonus point, and Kaz now bringing fresh legs to the back line it nearly came, however the game ended without further points.
A great victory for Cantabs 2s - in the last 3 years Ive been captain I dont think we have won this fixture. Credit to everyone on the pitch - a great team performance and part of a great club performance with 3 wins this weekend.
Man of the match - Jon Lineham. Excellent in the scrum, consistant and accurate lineout delivery and insane workrate for anyone, let alone a prop.
Dick of the - Nat for that kick!