Nobody could remember when we had last played Ipswich, but what comes around goes around as they say. Cantabs pack had Charlie Searle at 2nd row with open side flanker Stuart Williams joining him. On the left wing we saw the welcome return of Francois Eve after a long healing process on his shoulder. Vice-captain Nick Denham resumed at scrum half with Dean James still injured and yet another combination at centre where Drew Tilley was joined by Thom Marx.
Ipswich kicked off towards the clubhouse on a warm but overcast day; and plenty of grass on a yielding pitch. Early pressure came from Cantabs with the pack doing the damage in the scrum, followed up by both props making assaults on the Ipswich line to no avail. But when the ball was spun wide Ipswich were up to the task and forced the error. Drew Tilley suffered a heavy impact to his left ankle and limped off with just five minutes into the game, bringing Dominic Wrench into the fray.
Isaia collected a short throw from Tom and made good ground down the left touch-line with our hooker in support to take the return pass and move well into the opposition 22. From the ruck a speeding Perksy made a rampaging break for the line, but could not hold onto the ball. Ipswich cleared the danger who broke clear to good affect right up to our 22. It took some stalwart defence to prevent a score, but for five minutes Ipswich battled hard through the centre with their muscular runners causing no little problem for us. Twice we held the Suffolk men up over the try line, finally winning a penalty to clear but Ipswich ran the ball back and the onslaught continued. Then fullback Tim Charlton hacked the ball to safety and the cover defence was up to the task, the ball was knocked on and Ipswich were awarded a scrum just inside their 22. Cantabs won against the head, and twice Charlie Searle tried to set up the try, with Ipswich defending well. Cantabs finally being pushed into touch near the corner flag.
After a quarter of the match gone there was still no score, both teams' defensive lines managing to win the day. A good solid scrum from Cantabs brought the penalty and James Hayward found the left hand corner with his kick. Ipswich cleared yet again as our scrum was penalised for an early shove. Ipswich kicked up to their ten metre line, threw in crookedly and had to face our scrum again. From this Nick span the ball wide, Isaia picked up at the ruck and made the break. Francois up in support cut inside and made the decisive break into the 22, continued his run and was seemingly held five metres out, but using his strength, he held on to the ball and wriggled his way over the line for a score close to the left hand post. Nick made the conversion, Goochy surveyed the railway line for the match ball, but Cantabs were deservedly ahead at 7 - 0 after 30 minutes. No further excitement as the first half closed.
Second half started well for Ipswich, with a good kick into our left hand corner. Cantabs defended the lineout well Ipswich backed off to deny us a rolling maul. but this allowed Perksy the chance to move the ball up to our 22 with a typical burst. Ipswich continued to press hard to keep us pinned back, Cantabs tackled well to deny the central runners time and time again. This went on for nearly ten minutes, Ipswich battling away and Cantabs defending.
Thom Marx finally got a big boot to a loose ball on the edge of our 22 and following up, hacked the ball right up to the Ipswich goal. We won the scrum as Ipswich killed the ball. Cantabs contrived to mess up at the base of the scrum and a golden chance was lost.
Ipswich broke away out of their 22, but lacked support and were penalised for not releasing. James Hayward made no mistake from 30m; 10 - 0. Ben James took a break at that point, bringing Sam Howes into the scrum which now boasted five front row men, but allowed Stu Williams into his favoured back row. Within a couple of minutes James had another attempt ten metres from the left hand touchline, but the kick drifted away to the right, fell short and Ipswich broke clear up to halfway. Sir was having a very good game, but he did miss an Ipswich knock on and Cantabs were now facing another spell of pressure on the edge of their 22. Time and time again Ipswich tried to break through. Twice Ipswich nearly got their lively left winger away but Cantabs were not going to let this one go. Ipswich passing got gradually more desperate as Cantabs line stood firm and suddenly the pressure told, the pass across the line was hurried, James Hayward gobbled it up and ran the ball back to dive over the line under the posts. James asked me not to mention the conversion attempt so I won't; Cantabs 15 - 0 to the good.
Mick made his final substitution, Dan Searle finally getting five minutes at the expense of Joe Allison. Cantabs were not threatened again and ran out winners. This win moves us up to seventh in the table; two wins at home two losses away. Next game is in two weeks time at Diss, who are currently unbeaten.
No single player stood out for me, but the team defended extremely well, particularly down the middle where Ipswich battered away at Cantabs throughout the match. At this level, Cantabs are slowly finding their feet. If we can win most of our home games we will survive, so make a date for our next one. It is Saffron Walden on 7th November. Don't miss it; its been a long time coming; book your place now for one of Mr Railton's lunches.