Cantabrigian 2 vs Haverhill RFC - 17th Jan 2015 - Eastern Counties 2 (West)
After suffering a pretty comprehensive defeat at the hands of Bury St Edmunds last week and having been knocked off the league top spot, Cantabs 2nd XV were eager to make a return to winning ways on Saturday.
The first home game of the New Year was to be played on the 2nd team pitch, and despite the morning's early snow sprinkles the sun was out and the pitch was soft (if not a little muddy). Cantabs seemed focused throughout the warm up and having won the toss, opted to gift Haverhill with the sun in their eyes for the first half.
Things started well for the home side. Scrums were solid out and the entire team seemed keen to make up for last week's errors in defence. Before long, Cantabs dealt the first blow as Thom Marx injected some pace with the ball in hand, made 30 metres and shifted wide to Swarty, who pumped his slender legs all the way to the try line. Simon casually slotted the conversion and with 10 minutes gone, Cantabs had made a good start. 7 - 0
Five minutes later and Cantabs were defending in their 22. Phase after phase we tackled, realigned and continued to stop the Haverhill backs breaking through. Eventually the turnover came and the Blue & Whites were given a chance to clear their lines. The kick from Simon was chased up by our deceptively rapid captain and when the opposition fullback spilled the ball, Denman popped up to Chris Kelly who was charging up in support. He ran in the final 30 metres unchallenged and once again Taylor converted. 14 - 0
As the game continued, it appeared that it was going to be a particularly scrum-heavy affair. Haverhill had made a change in their front row and were now giving Cantabs a bit of a hustle at the set piece. A few balls were lost against the head, but Oli Roche and Laurence were always quick out of the gates and refused to give the opposition any easy route through.
30 minutes in, and Swarty was on the ball again. Attacking up the right-side of the pitch he found himself in glorious space with one man to beat. On the halfway line, in a slight episode of what I'm going to call 'Finlay Fever' Alex decided to ignore the 5 men in support and head across the pitch for the far corner. It would take some serious pace and agility to make it to make it to the line and unfortunately he was held up just a metre short. Thankfully there are a couple of guys in the team able to keep up with Alex, and Keith was the first there to secure the ball. He crashed forward until just short of the line and presented the ball for Aaron to pop over, close to the left touchline. No conversion, but a solid 19-0 lead at this early point in the game.
Haverhill were not going to give up and not long after found themselves back in the Tabs half and moving the ball wide. Oli stepped up to tackle one player, but perhaps aimed a little high. The Haverhill frustration at this point spilled over and it wasn't long before most of the players were in a furious heap, brawling at the feet of the supporters on the touch line. After the fists had stopped flying, Sir showed yellow to Oli for the high tackle, and the same to the offending Haverhill player for initiating the punch-up. 2 minutes later the whistle went for half time.
Changes at half time saw Deano coming on for Chris Kelly, Kaz for Thom and debutant Iain to replace Oli, when his time in the bin was finished.
The first half started with a few good chances for Cantabs. Paul Pudney was orchestrating the attack from the centres, drawing 2 men on him every time before he moved the ball on to the next runner. Craig was playing well and was particularly unlucky not to get on the scoreboard on a couple of occasions. Line outs were also functioning well, with Jonny hitting the mark almost every time and Laurence disrupting plenty of opposition ball. However it was Haverhill who scored next. A penalty in the midfield gifted them an attacking lineout 5 metres out, which they took very neatly and proceeded to charge their way across the white paint. 19-5.
Haverhill continued to improve with the ball in hand, but Cantabs were prepared. Aaron was instrumental in co-ordinating the D, and Haverhill were struggling to find a way through. Daren, Nat and Keith worked tirelessly to get onside and more than help out with the defensive duties. On many an occasion Jonny Heaver did what he did best, worming through rucks and mauls and turning over ball - a serious contender for man of the match, and Deano was tackling and running like he really hadn't played the game in a while...great to see him back on the pitch.
Having taken a couple of knocks, plus a set of studs to the face, Skeggs had one more contribution to make before taking a rest. From a turnover on the halfway line our No. 8 steamed towards the Haverhill line, eventually making the whole distance and touching down in the corner. A bonus point for Cantabs and the score at 24-5.
Oli was back on the pitch, and Cantabs were playing some top rugby. A catch and drive from the lineout looked to be headed for our 5th try, but the call from the referee was truck-and-trailer. A good 15-20 minutes in the 2nd half were spent in our own territory defending against a Haverhill side who wanted another score, but this week through the hard work and determination of the Cantabs lads, the final whistle blew and Cantabs had won the game.
A good win for us against a solid & competitive opposition and a massive reaction to the errors that lost us last week's fixture. A particular mention goes to Iain, playing his first game for Cantabs and very much proving his worth. Also a huge thank you to all the supporters that came down and provided such a great atmosphere to play in.
Man Of The Match - Goes to Aaron who bossed the game from No. 9, worked tirelessly and even got his name on the score sheet.
Dick Of The Day - Despite putting in a great performance, Oli Roche gets this honour for not helping us improve discipline statistics.
A week off from the League this week, so our 2nd team face Hitchin II's in a friendly.