Cantabs 2’s opened their account for the season with a tightly fought win against Hitchin 2’s at the weekend.
With the previous weekends fixture being cancelled, Cantabs where itching to get started and with the sun shining and the ground firm it looked like a perfect day for a game of rugby. Looking equally excellent were the Cantabs team, sporting there newly acquired team polo-shirts in a sea of blue and white.
Much to the forwards disappointment, as the teams warmed up it became apparent that Hitchin did not have a front row and so the game would be played with uncontested scrums, but Cantabs were determined not to be distracted.
With Hitchin kicking off, the Cantabs team's eagerness after a long off season began to backfire, as the back row gave away 4 penalties in quick succession as they stepped up to halt the flood of Claret shirts and with just a few minutes of the season gone Hitchin punctured the Cantabs line with some strong running lines, with the try duly converted. (0-7).
Determined to make amends Cantabs instantly put the pressure back onto Hitchin, with some strong running through the forwards. From a quick tap Tom Condor took the ball to the line drawing in the opposition and gracefully offloaded to Laurence to crash over from 10m. The conversion was missed but this score seemed to settle some of the Cantabs nerves. (5-7)
Shorn of the scrum to work off, the Cantabs lineout was at least functioning well, with the jumpers putting plenty of pressure on the opposition through and making the most of opportune steals. This allowed Cantabs a strong platform to attack the Hitchin line and confine them to their own half for long periods.
Hitchin’s defence throughout the day was excellent, quelling many attacking opportunities and allowing Hitchin to clear their lines and highlighting to Cantabs the need to support the man and stop them becoming isolated.
When Cantabs did manage to link phases together, they looked threatening and a couple of good carries allowed Luke, making his first Cantabs start, to scoot from the base to cross the white wash, with the try out to the left again going unconverted (10-7).
Cantabs third try came shortly afterwards as a frustrated Hitchin deviated offside in an attempt to hold back the flood of Blue and White. From the quick tap, Keith made no mistake and burst through under the post, with Lovett converting to put Cantabs into a great position going into the second half. (17-7)
In an attempt to maintain the momentum they had built up Cantabs remained unchanged at half time, with players told to empty their legs and go for it. Try as they might Cantabs could not add to the scoring early on and Hitchin began to build confidence from their defence, with their runners, especially the number 8 becoming more and more dangerous. Laurence was then forced off the field after a swinging arm left him doing his best Mike Tindall impression with Shaggy joining the fray.
As Cantabs began to tire in the sun, the bench started to empty with Deller, Matt, Janos and Nat making way for Mark, Wy, Chris and Matthais. Despite some brave defending, Cantabs still found themselves heavily pressured by Hitchin runners and unable to link together plays due to great disruptive work at the breakdown by the opposition forwards. They broke through twice in quick succession; with the conversion giving Hitchin back the lead (17-19).
With Tim on for Brad for a blood replacement, and Tom on for Matt and Ed making a hasty move to centre, Cantabs made a final push towards the Hitchin line. Forcing the opposition back whilst in possession and under pressure Wy, in his first game of rugby, secured Cantabs a penalty in front of the sticks which Lovett gleefully converted into 3 points, returning the lead to Cantabs. (20-19)
Despite further attempts, including an audacious drop kick from Lovett which just drifted wide, no further scores were added and the referee blew for full time and a first win of the season to Cantabs.
Plenty to work on for next week and a little bit of rustiness showed through but all in all a good performance, especially from those making their first Cantabs and 2’s appearances, slotting right in and proving that there will be some serious competition for places in this seasons' squad.