Cantabs made the trip back down the M11 to Romford to try their luck against Campion; the club that had doubled us when winning London 3NE two seasons previously. Cantabs had Finn Morrison back at outside centre and Tim Charlton at full back. Charlie Searle started at loose head with Isaia unavailable.
The morning rain had disappeared but the gale was still blowing as Campion kicked off with the wind but up the slope. The early pressure from Campion did not result in a try but did give the home side a straightforward attempt at goal; which was easily accepted to give them a 3 - 0 advantage after just three minutes.
Cantabs were then soon on the offensive with some great hands from the backs as Cantabs moved the ball to the right and then back to the left wing where David Bloxsum ran round two defenders and did enough to score in the corner just as he was tackled. Nick Denham slotted home a difficult kick from the left hand touchline against the wind and Cantabs were ahead at 3 - 7 just five minutes later.
Cantabs were attacking well with flyhalf Xaver and Finn both looking very sharp and taking the play into the opposition half. For the first time this season our back row were getting to the breakdown well and Cantabs were recycling the ball extremely well.
Next close call again was for Cantabs with Shed putting Francois away on the right wing, only to see our right winger spill the ball in the tackle just three metres out. Cantabs seemed to be getting the upper hand in the scrum whereas Campion's lineout was working well. Their big runners were causing us to defend and proved to be a handful all afternoon, particularly the No 8, and both wingers.
Cantabs then went close but the tackle on Finn saw the ball go loose. However Sir had spotted an offside and Nick had an easy kick from in front of goal just 15 metres out; 3 - 10 after 20 minutes.
Nick then pushed a grubber kick out towards the left wing, where a rampaging Finn did enough to cause the full - back to knock on. From the scrum Cantabs swept the ball across to the right where Shed took over and appeared to score to the right of the posts. Held-up was the call , but we had gained another penalty for offside. Charlie Searle took a quick tap, and shifted the ball to the left and Tom Bailey, coming into the line burst through two tackles for try number two; 3 - 15. Now Cantabs were well on top and Campion were only getting out of their half for very small periods of play.
After the restart, the Campion inside centre suffered a bad blow to his shoulder and took no further part in the game. We were penalised at the scrum for not playing the ball and taking it back into the scrum, with Campion in complete disarray. Then we could have scored twice. Firstly Francois, under pressure, spilled the ball when clear on the right wing with the line beckoning. Then Finn hesitated ten metres out instead of putting his head down and going for the line. But Cantabs were not to be denied. A scrum just outside the five metre line was about to be turned by Campion, when Ben James had the presence to pick up and go, making the score to the right of the posts. Again the wind was too much for Nick, but we were away at 3 - 20 as the half ended.
Tim Charlton was the first to make inroads in the second half but Campion held firm and started to get their fullback and right winger running at us. To his credit it always took several attempts to bring down their number 14 but Cantabs were defending well.
Jon Lineham was now on for Tom, with Charlie moving to hooker, and Francois was replaced by Alex Whyte. Cantabs scored next with a comparatively easy chance for Nick with a penalty 23 metres out; slightly against the run of play but we were well clear at 3 - 23.
Campion were not done however and with the aid of the slope started to show more and more in the Cantabs half.
Keegan then threw a short lineout to Charlie, who returned the pass giving Keegan the chance to run 30 metres into the Campion 22. Cantabs recycled the ball and gained a scrum right under the posts, but Campion won this one against the head. Campion then worked the ball into our 22, and their No 5 powered his way over close to the posts; the conversion making the score 10 - 23.
Campion now had their tails up and were soon back for more, a very similar drive from within our 22, giving rise to a second try close to the posts; 17 - 23 with 12 minutes to go. At that point the writing was on the wall, could Cantabs hold on?
Nick's restart kick went long to the left hand corner. Their winger fumbled the ball, and Cantabs won possession. Campion were penalised ten metres out and Jon Perks elected for the scrum. The scrum did its job, stalled at the line but the pack kept the ball and fittingly it was Perksy who came up with the ball as we made the line. Nick converted well; the pressure was off again at 17 - 30, and what's more it was a try bonus point. Joe was now on for Ben at No 8.
Campion fought hard to get their try bonus point, but despite being under pressure on our five metre line and losing Alex; yellow card for a high tackle, Cantabs broke away on the left with Tim kicking long with the wind into the Campion half. Their winger got a cramp as he ran after the ball and somehow hacked it into touch inside his 22. Following the lineout, Cantabs were awarded a penalty 15 metres out, and elected for a scrum. Even more effective this time as Campion were trundled back to their line. Joe Allison was the gleeful try scorer, Nick added two more and the game was over at an impressive 17 - 37.
Despite a wobble half way through the second half, Cantabs came out of this with confidence oozing and chalked up rare away win against the team one place above them in the league. Great defence throughout, some lovely handling and running from our backs in the first half in very windy conditions. Toby and Xaver at half back combined well throughout, with Toby gaining more and more confidence each game. Stuart, Ben and Keegan really got to grips with the rucks and with their aggression at the breakdown we won lots of turnovers. Difficult to give a man of the match. First half, probably Finn. Second half had to be the front five that gave Campion a torrid time in the set piece.
Overall a great day for the Club with all three teams winning; our two junior sides scoring a total of 111 points with only 6 conceded. Next game for the 1st XV is in two weeks time at home against high flying Sudbury.