Cantabs travelled to unbeaten Diss for this London 2 fixture. The home side lost out for promotion in the playoffs last season and were going to be a tough side on their patch.
Cantabs, without a recognised scrum half had drafted in Tim Charlton at No 9 and Alex Stafford was making his debut at inside centre. Charlie Searle resumed at second row alongside Dave Evershed and Stuart Williams was back at open-side.
In overcast conditions, with rain threatened for the second half, Cantabs decided play up the slope in the first half as Diss kicked off and soon had us under pressure. Cantabs had hardly got a hand on the ball before the home side forwards were making ground down the right, a missed tackle and the first try, converted, made the score 7 - 0 after two minutes.
Early scrums showed that this was where Cantabs had the advantage, Diss being penalised for their front row popping up. However with our pack inside the Diss 22 and on our own put-in, we were penalised for a crooked feed and Diss broke away at speed right up to our line but their right winger was tackled into the corner flag. Our throw was not straight and Diss were awarded a 5m scrum. At the fourth attempt, with their front row still under pressure from our pack, the No 8 finally got hold of the ball and his drive for the line went virtually unopposed. The try was again converted from wide out; 14 - 0 after 12 minutes.
Cantabs then showed they meant business with a sustained attack in the Diss 22, using both sides of the pitch, resulting in a penalty. Unfortunately James Hayward could not take advantage from the edge of the 22. Cantabs continued to attack with Pete Collins going close and then John Regan had a run down the left wing but the cover tackle pushed him into touch at the corner. Diss worked their way out of trouble with ease from the lineout, and their powerful runners sliced through the Cantabs defence with comparative ease to find themselves deep in our 22 again. Another lineout to Diss did the trick, three times they were in or 22, and three times they had scored. Again an immaculate conversion; 21 - 0 to the home side. Cantabs tackling was just not up to the task at this point in the match.
Diss changed their front row to try and counter our dominance in the scrum, bringing on some extra weight. Cantabs threatened again from the restart, moving into the Diss 22, and forced a couple of penalties as the home side were put under pressure from our pack. Then from a Diss lineout we won the ball and moved the ball from the right across the face of the goal, where Stuart Williams darted through to score to the left of the posts. No conversion, but at least Cantabs were on the board at 21 - 5. Now all we had to do was keep Diss at bay for the last five minutes of the half.
Diss hadn't read the script though and their left winger hardly broke into a trot as he sauntered over the line for their fourth try, again converted to make the half time score 28 - 5. Despite our complete dominance in the scrum, Diss had ventured into our half four times and had scored on each occasion.
Charlie, Paul and Joe made way for Sam, Thom and Ben as Mick rang the changes at half time. The rain duly arrived and initially despite the slope being to advantage, their No 8 was on the shoulder of his centre as Diss moved into our 22. There was no stopping him as he crossed the line for the fifth try. Five tries and five conversions and Cantabs on the rack at 35 - 5 with most of the half to go.
Cantabs at last started to play. A Hayward penalty moved us into the right hand corner, we won the lineout, formed a maul, and Diss could not prevent Stuart Williams from claiming his second try of the match. James finally found his kicking boots and from close to the touchline made the conversion. Cantabs' confidence visibly grew with this try; now 35 - 12.
Another great kick from our fly-half to the same corner saw Cantabs back with another chance. This time from the lineout, Perksy was held up but managed to smuggle the ball back; Shed took over and there was no stopping him from three metres; 35 - 17. Diss were now a little concerned.
Diss forced their way back into our half and some desperate defending resulted in Finn Morrison receiving a statutory 10 minute rest. Diss won a lineout on the right about eight metres out, mauled the ball and their irrepressible No 8 was on hand to complete his hat trick. This time the conversion went wide! But at 40 - 17 the game was effectively over.
Cantabs pressed hard for a further score, but with a shoulder injury to Alex Stafford we lost a lot of the impetus in midfield from our back line; Paul Graddage took over. Charlie came back on to replace Tom at hooker and Joe Allison replaced Pete Collins at flanker. Diss were now having to defend their line as Cantabs battled for the try bonus point. But it was not to be, despite a yellow card for Diss; final score was unchanged at 40 - 17. At least we managed to draw the second half.
Lots of lessons learnt from this tough game. We had no answer to their powerful runners and on this form Diss will be right up there at the end of the season. Their No 8 was a lethal finisher and our tackles never really touched him. Alex Stafford showed a lot of class and aggression at centre, Francois showed he is getting back to match fitness with some typical runs from fullback. Diss told us our pack was the best they had come up against. We now need to work hard over the next fortnight before we face Saffron Walden on the 7th November - a match we need to win.