Cantabs were up against high-flying Sudbury in this home encounter, seeking revenge against last year's Division 3 champions who had doubled us last season. Cantabs had played well at Campion in their last game and following a week's break were really raring to go. We were bolstered by the return of James Hayward at flyhalf having recovered from concussion in the last home game. Sami was also making his first start of the season at outside centre, with Finn Morrison shifting to openside. The squad had six front row players with Jon Lineham and Keegan Evans joining Pete Collins on the bench.
Cantabs plan was to take the game to Sudbury up front and try to prevent their flying backs from out-flanking us. We kicked off towards the Clubhouse in blustery conditions on a yielding pitch. Cantabs were soon on the offensive with a good move down the right, the forwards recycled the ball well on the edge of the 22 and James Hayward passed long to the left, missing both centres where Tim Charlton gathered well to put Dave Bloxsum away down the left wing, to score. Just three minutes gone and we were up 5 - 0.
Two good attacks from Sudbury followed, the second down the right failed just ten metres out, with Cantabs relieved to take the penalty kick to safety. Cantabs were already showing that they had learnt from previous games, with our back row up quickly to the breakdown. Too many penalties conceded by Cantabs perhaps and with Sir seemingly mislaying his yellow card, the game followed a similar pattern of Cantabs spoiling all attempts by the visitors to bring their backs into the game. So far so good. Sudbury got to within five metres but we snaffled the ball in the ruck and Hayward cleared into touch on halfway. At this point it was clear that we had the advantage in the scrum, but Sudbury were winning well in the lineout. The next score developed from a Cantabs scrum, Ben James held the ball at the base, Sudbury broke too early, but we shifted the ball to the right, blindside, and Hayward ran into the 22, timing his pass perfectly for Nick Denham to score at ease in the corner. Again the wind proved to much for the conversion attempt from out wide, but Cantabs were ahead at 10 - 0 after 12 minutes.
More pressure followed from Cantabs down the left, with Hayward's kick giving us a great opportunity in the corner. Sudbury were good enough and cleared the danger only to knock on under pressure and we scrummaged into good position inside the 22. Shed finally got over the line with our pack rampant but was adjudged held up. From the 5m scrum, I guess Sudbury expected a sustained shove. Instead Toby shifted the ball to our flyhalf and he made the whitewash for try number three. Conversion from Nick made the score 17 - 0 and just 25 minutes on the clock.
It was now all Cantabs with Sami knocking seven bells out of their defence and our forwards quick to the breakdown. Next attempt on goal was set up by a great steal from Alex Stafford in the ruck and Bloxsum was away again down the left; this time cutting inside before he was tackled 15m out. Shed took over and got within five. Our forwards were too keen, off their feet and Sudbury had to defend their scrum right under their posts. Sudbury somehow worked the ball out but not clear and before they knew what had happened we picked up moving the ball through the backs at speed, the final pass round his tackler left handed by Alex and Tim, coming into the line scored at ease to the right of the posts. Best move of the match, sealed by Nick's conversion. Cantabs were buzzing at 24 - 0 and a bonus point as well.
Cantabs continued to press and from a five metre scrum Ben James got within a metre picking up at the base. But a flying boot from a defender finished his game at that point, Pete Collins taking over at No 8. No further score to half time.
Seven minutes after the restart Cantabs had a double piece of good fortune. An attempted interception by Tim Charlton on the edge of our 22, was knocked on and ignored by Sir. Tim hacked forward twice, tried to pick up and knocked on again, Sir was unsighted, so Tim hacked on again and gathered the ball finally to score under the posts; 31 - 0. The Sudbury faithful supporters were rightly indignant, but the game was effectively over at that point.
Alex, feeling his hamstring, was replaced by Keegan, who moved to blindside releasing Stu Williams to openside and Finn back to his customary centre. Jon Perks also rested his knees allowing Jon Lineham a go up front. If they thought this might bring some respite in the scrum, Sudbury soon found out differently. Cantabs were now mounting attack after attack and Sudbury had no real answer. When the visitors got the ball our tackling in defence was exemplary, our back row was on them all the time. Sudbury were caught offside on their ten metre line, Hayward hit the line, but before we could throw in, Sudbury were penalised for chat and Cantabs moved closer to the corner with a 5m lineout. Perksy, Shed and Charlie tried to make the line, but with Sudbury defending well we moved the ball wide to the right where Charlton on the overlap scored try number six virtually unopposed; score now 36 - 0.
Charlie suffered a stinger and took time to recover, but stayed on, not so Finn Morrison who got into some funny stuff and was given a ten minute break. The one man advantage allowed Sudbury back into the game but Cantabs stood firm and denied the visitors a sight of our try line. Sudbury got to within 10m of the goal when we were penalised inside the 22, and were then retreated a further ten for back-chatting. Sudbury brought up their big guns for an assault on our line, but to resounding cheers our defence held firm and forced the knock-on. That was Sudbury's one and only chance of points in the second half. Their Number 7 was yellow-carded for chat, to even up the numbers, Finn finally came back on and Cantabs were seemingly running time down. Toby went mightily close with another hack through only to be beaten to the touchdown by inches. Charlie ran the ball out, and combined well with Bloxsum, but apart from these moves the half finished somewhat tamely. The final score of 36 - 0 was fully deserved, to blob Sudbury in any game is an achievement and will have the rest of the league wondering about us.
Cantabs were superb throughout the squad, our defence did just what Mick had asked, and our backs scored all the tries, which is a first for this season. Our pack battered Sudbury throughout and with Toby and James combining well at half back our backs are starting to look the part. Next game away to Norwich will be another battle, but if we can put on a show like this one, we might surprise them.
Last home game on 19th against Rochford Hundred is preceded by our Christmas Lunch - get yourselves down to Sedley Taylor Road to cheer the lads on.
Post Script: Comment from Tim Charlton on Facebook:
"This match report is outrageous. There was no attempt from me to make an interception... Their fullback kicked it at my head, no knock ons occurred, I ran 60 yards though".
Funnily enough that is how Sir saw it - but from the touchline it appeared differently. Funny old game - Editor