Ground hog day with the 2nds up against the same opponents, on the same pitch, in the same conditions as the previous week. Mildenhall returned to the scene of the crime with a visibly stronger squad, eager to narrow the score line from the league match. Cantabs had several changes too, the most notable, Darren Carew playing his first game back after a lengthy stint out due to a shoulder injury. Both teams had good support on the sidelines including Mick Jones who kept a close eye on proceedings.
From the outset it was clear that we were in for a more physical battle. Their forwards were slowing down our ball and turning over rucks. The first ten minutes of the game was a real arm wrestle with no side looking to threaten the scoreboard. The first points came from the boot of Chris Lovett, with stand in captain Drew electing to take the points on offer; 3 - 0 Cantabs. This was then followed by a series of near misses and silly errors. We had moved away from the standard crash, crash, spin mantra and along with poor handling and a lack of depth, the tries went begging. Ben's attempt to slide over from five meters out and losing the ball won him dick of the day, closely followed by Joe losing it over the line off the back of a scrum. It was fast becoming one of those days.
Eventually Spud showed the backs how it's done by crashing over. He has now scored in almost every game this season and is having a cracker of a year. Soon after, a quick tap by Josh put Mildenhall on the back foot. Sam made no mistake crashing over to score our second try close to the posts. At the end of a frustrating half, the score line was 13 - 0 in our favour.
Dave O'Neil and Alex Whyte were brought into the game for the second phase. We were now against the wind and wouldn't be able to rely on Lovett's clearing kicks, which were exceptional in the first half. Angry Dan was having a running conflict with their whole forward pack but mainly their biggest blokes and it got a little heated on a few occasions. We finally had some good patches of play, producing the type of flowing rugby we know and love. The backline showed what we are capable of with tries to Drew and Luke who replaced Thom on the wing. A penalty try was also awarded to Harri after being tackled high in the act of scoring, taking his total to six in just two games. The game was wrapped up with 20 minutes left on the clock but Mildenhall kept bringing the game to us. They made a few line breaks and retained possession for good periods during both halves. Similar to the first half, many opportunities were halted due to poor ball handling in the backs and improved defense from Mildenhall. With only seconds left to play, Harri decided that he needed to look more like a rugby player, copping one beauty of a shiner, which may force him to miss a few matches.
The final score was 32 - 0. There was a sombre mood in the sheds after the game, despite the convincing cup win that takes us on to the semi-final. We know we can play a lot better. Let's leave it at that. Josh was picked as man of the match, but handed the pint to Spud who eventually got it down. Ben basically ate his pint - He will be a popular choice for boat races in the future. Next week we take on Ely 2's in the league. We currently sit third on the ladder behind Haverhill and Bury. Both sides still have to come to us after Christmas and these will be crucial games in deciding the league.