The 2s travelled to Saffron Walden buoyed by last weeks doughnutting of March. A crisp day with a low sun (which made taking kick offs a challenge) greeted us and Saffron Walden looked to have put together a strong team. Darren was back in the squad from the 1s last weekend and Jonny shifted across to Hooker with the pack otherwise remaining unchanged. Guns took up the starting position at scrum half and Alex and Oli (making his 2s debut) started on the wings.
Cantabs started playing up hill and from the kick off it became clear that this game was a step up in intensity from last week. A ten minute period of pressure from Saffron Walden, sending there big men trundling through the channels, was only halted by some excellent tackling and jackling work allowing Cantabs to clear their lines and progress out of there half. Following on from the success of last week the handling across the backline (and interchange between the forwards was excellent) and a series of offloads allowed the backs front foot ball in the Walden 22, which was spun wide to Oli out on the wing who showed great pace to slide through for the first score in the corner. The conversion drifted across the face of the posts but Cantabs could settle slightly 5-0.
On reclaiming the restart Cantabs demanded more of the same, with Darren Nat and Dave carrying strongly and bursting through the Walden line. Support runners were on hand and with Oli halted just a meter from the line Chris was on hand to bundle over the final meter to open his account for the 2s again a tricky conversion from the corner missed but the score taken to 10-0.
Cantabs where forced into a period of defending but our line speed and organisation proved up to the challenge as wave after wave of Walden attackers were chopped down. Dan was making turnovers and Drew was making a menace of himself, holding up the opposition and creating a platform for the forwards to rip clean turnover ball.
A penalty for diving over allowed Euan to put the ball into the corner on the Walden 22 and a catch and drive from a 5 man lineout saw the forward trundle up to within 5m of the line. The subsequent break saw Drew muscle his way over, again the kick from the corner missing its mark, 15-0 to Cantabs.
A later similar venture into the Walden 22 was turned over but a no arm clear-out on Dan at the ruck gave Cs a penalty which Jonny took quickly and dived for the line, sneaking over near to the posts. This was converted, taking the score to 22-0 at half time.
With the change of ends Walden hit a purple patch and for much of the 3rd quarter Cantabs were confined to their own 22. An unbelievable defensive effort across the entire blue and white line saw off attack after attack. Walden then lost their 2nd front rower, with scrums going uncontested. This allowed Jake to come on for Tozer, Finlay on for Oli and Lovett on for Euan. With the Walden attack becoming frustrated and increasingly desperate they began to really move the ball around but a loose pass was latched onto by Alex who stepped through and put on the burners to run in from 70m. The conversion from Lovett made it 29-0.
Josh then took a break, with Oli returning to the game, as did Dave, with Tozer coming back on for the Final few minutes. The final score came, quite deservedly for Darren who had been running over Walden defenders all day, after an excellent break down the left wing by Finlay, the ball was spun back and the forwards mauled forwards towards the line. With the ball quickly shipped back again Darren put his head down against tired defence with the outcome inevitable. Another simple conversion made it 36-0.
An excellent team performance and some really dogged defence. Else ware in the league, Haverhill beat Bury opening up the competition at the top. Cantabs now entertain both teams, key games which could decide the outcome of the league.
MOTM Daren Carew, for some excellent running with ball in hand causing Walden issues all day.
DOTD Daren Carew, for kicking the ball downfield from a turnover, ignoring the 4 man overlap outside.
Carew, Heaver, Hannaby, Townsend, White, Tilley
Wilder, Lovett (2)