The tight five in a rugby team consists of the 3 front row players and the 2 second rows. There are two types of tight five - small ones and big ones. Cantabs 2s have been opting for the smaller guys up front recently, and it's been working - straight wins over Haverhill, Walden and Cambridge is a huge acheivment for us and scrums have played quite a part in these games. With a smaller pack, the hope is what you might lose in weight at the scrum you should make up for around the park. Cottenham Renegades most definately have the second type of front five, and this spectating captain did not find himself envying the Tabs front row when it came to scrum time this week - we got annihilated. Repeatedly. All credit to Renegades on this front - time after time they turned over our ball and eventually they got both their tries when our skinny boys were unable to withstand the red and black drive.
Thankfully however, scrummaging is not the be all and end all of rugby and despite the battering they took, Cantabs tight five proved the point about work rate around the park. I reckon if we had all the fancy gizmos like they do on TV, possession for the whole game would be around 75-80% in Cottenhams favour. They have a solid game plan - smash it up. The first 25 minutes were spent in our half defending against a constant enslaught of BIG runners. Every single player in blue and white made tackle after tackle to stop the opposition breaking through before we eventually managed to get hands on the ball. Debutant David at fly-half moved it wide quickly and Paul Pudney finally broke through and scored. Against the run of play, but a great try none the less. Not too long later, the exact same thing happened again and again David slotted the conversion. The ref blew the end of the half and we were a surprising 14-0 up.
Half time changes saw Lovett make way for Graddage, while Pete and Skeggs were swapped for Dave and Fraser.
And so it continued - with our scrums being demolished and our lineouts completely malfunctioning, Renegades were bound to get a decent share of time on the ball. They continued to run at us, but with the likes of Laurence, Ollie, Dave, Fraser, Tozer and Keith working their absolute bollocks off to stop forwards coming through and the back line mirroring, we managed to hold off any tries being run through. Despite all this defending, our backs remained alert and poised to attack when the chance arose. Both David and Nick had incredibly strong starts to their Cantabs career, and our third try game in about 15 mins into the second half - some sexy hands and finally the the try to.... Paul Pudney - someone would be getting a jug in after the game!
We made some good runs during the second half, and there were a lot of nearly moments - Paul Graddage was playing hard and was unlucky not to score. The same can be said for Dan Bridgeway who made the progression up from our third team. The problem came when these nearly moments turned into a scrum or lineout and Cantabs were forced defend again until they got the ball back.
55 minutes on and Cantabs find themselves frantically defending their line from a barrage of big Cottenham men. Eventually Gades win a scrum, we manage to hold it off, then they get another one, we manage to hold that off too by the skins of our teeth, but then they got another! No way could we cope with this and in the end Renegades pushed us over our own line for thier first points of the game. In all honesty they deserved them for the scrumming lesson we were receiving.
20 mins to go and a final set of changes to be made. I figured if youre a team of big ole boys the last thing you probably want is fresh legged back rows in the opposite team - so Pete and Skeggs were back on for Nat and Laurence. Dan made way for Lovett to finish the game on the wing.
We were now pushing for the bonus point, and things started to gel for a while. About the only period of sustained pressure Cantabs had and finally that elusive try came. The scorer - Paul Pudney for his fourth! However, not feeling that the score quite reflected the match, Renegades got the final points with another push over try from the scrum.
A strange game, Renegades had us in the set piece, but not in the open play. Their forwards were very impressive, but their backs were perhaps not at full strength (Faben Jnr on the sideline would have been sure to make a difference had he brought his boots). Never the less, another great winning performance from the twos.
A few mentions - firstly to David who stepped into the 10 spot and played a great game, place kicking a particular strength. Nick at 10 did everything you could want, and he got the ball into the try scorers hands again and again. Dan, Alex and Graddage played well but just didnt get the amount of ball we would have liked. I thought Nat captained well - he has really grown into the role since the start of the season. All of our back row were mighty impressive, turning this selection headache into a migrane. And finally to our front row who had a real tough time at the coal face but made every effort to show their worth elsewhere on the pitch.
Man Of The Match - you can't score 4 tries and not get man of the match - Paul Pudney.
Dick Of The Day - you can't score 4 tries and then leave early without getting the jugs in - Paul Pudney.