Cantabs took the long journey to the seaside and Clacton for this league encounter. Eight changes from the previous match. Josh Schmidt was making his first appearance of the season for the 1st XV Debuts also for Ollie Lewis at 2nd Row, and Jonny Regan. Seb Trower made a welcome return to the back row after injury, taking over at No 8 in Rich Ford's absence. Nick Denham started at full-back as Francois Eve was still out with the shoulder injury sustained against Stowmarket. Finlay Wilson and Finn Morrison also had moved up from the 2nds for this one and Dave (Ever)Shed was back in at 2nd row. Perksy was also on the bench with Mick Jones trying to make him rest those knees.
Cantabs chose to go uphill and against the wind in the first half, on a very wet pitch, and the early clashes showed just how the enormous Clacton front five were going to try and dominate our forwards. All the early pressure came from the hosts and it took a great saving tackle from Nick Denham to halt the flying right winger. Cantabs then made inroads down their own right wing with Finlay Wilson nearly getting clear and well supported by hooker Thom Bailey. First real chance came to Cantabs from this attack as Clacton were caught offside. David Reed made no mistake from 15m bang in front; 0 - 3 with four minutes gone.
The first scrum was held by Cantabs easily despite the obvious weight advantage of the Clacton pack. Next meaningful attack came from the Cantabs backs with left winger Harri Beasley able to run at the defence. Three huge side steps to his right and a lovely off-load to Finn Morrison in support brought the try under the posts. David's conversion took the score to 0 - 10 after twelve minutes. Thom Bailey then had to give way to Charlie Searle at hooker after having his rib injury worsened by the Clacton prop falling on him.
Clacton then threatened to score and, but for some fierce defensive tackling of their big men, they would have got through. They won a penalty inside our 22, but spurned the points by kicking for the left hand corner mud patch. Clacton tried a catch and drive and Cantabs managed to deny them with help of a knock-on. We took the scrum and David made touch on our 10m line. That was the last big threat from the Essex men in the half and with Josh Schmidt now starting to spin the ball out from our dominant scrum, both ways, Cantabs were going the better of the two teams. We worked our way up inside the 22, on the right with Finlay being tackled into touch five metres short of the line. Cantabs won the lineout with a great steal from Seb, caught Clacton offside and from wide on the right, David made no mistake to end the half at 0 - 13.
Right from the kick-off at the start of the second half, Cantabs broke clear and it was Seb who made the try line with a typical drive out of a ruck of blue shirts. This time David was unable to drag the ball out of the mud; his kick falling short, but the score was now 0 - 18. Cantabs had signalled their intention to utilise the slope and wind and were now looking dominant.
A huge kick from David inside his own 22, having fielded the restart, was sent skidding into touch 20m out from the Clacton line. We took the lineout spun the ball out wide and it was captain Dan who took over from 15m out, ignoring a double overlap, spinning like a top out of the grasp of the tackler to dive over at the post. Conversion by David, brought the score to 0 - 25 with only 44 minutes gone.
Perksy was now on for Jon Lineham at tight head and his knees appeared to be in great condition as he sprinted 30m through three tackles to set up the ruck on the 22. Josh recycled the ball on phase three and it was Charlie who took advantage, arrowing past two tackles, dummying to pass, before slipping the ball inside to Shed who dived over for the fourth try, and the bonus point. David made it 0 - 32.
Clacton were not done though and a missed tackle allowed their left winger to break clear and score an unconverted try in the corner to make it 5 - 32. Mick was hopping mad, the Clacton faithful were celebrating their first score against us; at that point having conceded 150 points in the two matches! Harri took a break to be replaced by Jonny Regan making his debut.
This seemed to gel Cantabs into action. David, made the muddy corner with another great kick with the wind, we won the lineout, moved the ball out to the right and Finn Morrison scored his second to the right of the posts. David scored with a majestic kick from wide out, to make the score 5 - 39 on 62 minutes.
Yet another great penalty kick into the muddy left hand corner, allowed Charlie the chance to call for a catch and drive. The pack duly obliged with Pete Collins the beneficiary by scoring at ease behind a relentless canter to the whitewash. This time David's conversion did not hook in with the wind, so the score was 5 - 44, with ten minutes left on the clock. Mick gave Seb a break from the action to preserve his shoulder.
Cantabs then broke away on the right and from 20m out there was no stopping Shed, as he burst over the line for his second try of the match. David again made the conversion from out wide; 5 - 51 and was promptly substituted after another great display of kicking. That kick signalled our 600th league point of the season, some 200 better than any of our opponents.
Final try of the game went very aptly to Perksy who crashed over following an extended period of pressure from the Cantabs pack who had been camped in and around the Clacton 22 for nearly five minutes. Nick Denham was unable to emulate David's kicking prowess, but at 5 - 56, the referee called for time.
After the initial onslaught by a willing but limited Clacton pack, Cantabs took control and hang onto 2nd spot in the division with this win. Great debut from Finn Morrison at outside centre and another immaculate display of kicking from our fly-half. Also good to see a resurgent Shed in this game. Cantabs really do have an abundance of talent in the squad this season. Three teams in action yet again which is happily now the norm for the club, with fifteen changes in the 3rd XV showing the wealth of talent available at present.