Five changes from the side which hammered Holt last week, due to unavailability, for the Club's first trip to Ipswich in almost 30 years. The home side had been relegated from London 1 last year and had started the season badly. However a series of wins prior to Christmas and a narrow seven point defeat by League leaders Saffron Walden demonstrated that the Suffolk club were on the up, so a difficult encounter was expected.
The pitch was well grassed and immaculately presented, although soft after the recent rain. Cantabs kicked off into a stiff breeze, and were soon taking the game to the opposition. Our backs mounted two attacks in the first two minutes and before the large crowd had all filed out of the pre-match lunch, there was David Bloxsum racing over the line for the first try 15 metres out from the posts; 0 - 5 to Cantabs.
Cantabs were straight back into the attack after the restart, winning a penalty. But Hayward, suffering a tight hamstring, could not make too much headway with his kick to touch. Our throw was not straight, and immediately Ipswich, wise to our scrum from the fixture earlier in the season, elected for a lineout. When we were awarded our first scrum, Ipswich front row were straight up, but Sir penalised Perksy for boring in on his opposite number. It was going to be one of those days! From the penalty, suddenly an Ipswich centre burst through two weak tackles and went over the try line close to our posts; just about holding onto the ball as he touched down. The fly half had a straightforward conversion to make the score 7 - 5.
Cantabs were next to threaten the scoreboard when Harri got some space on the left and was tackled ten metres short of the line. He managed to recycle and our forwards took over the assault on the Ipswich line. We won a scrum against the head close to the line, but Ipswich defence held out with their big No 8 coming away with the ball. The Ipswich hooker had to leave the field for extensive treatment and strapping to a shoulder injury. However, Ipswich broke clear, through their fullback, again through the middle, the pass out to the left wing was blatantly forward, but the move continued and their winger was able to run around our cover defence to score under the posts; 14 - 5.
Cantabs came straight back at Ipswich, their driving maul making 15 metres, before Ipswich were penalised for off-side. Hayward's kick to the corner set up the lineout, which we lost and the chance was gone. Ipswich then lost their influential No 8 for ten minutes for an infringement on halfway. We continues to press with Shed going close. We won a scrum ten metres out against the head and trundled forwards. Pete Collins made the final touchdown; James added the extras, and we were back in it at 14 - 12, with 37 minutes gone.
Ipswich were not done, however, mounting another attack. We appeared to be holding them out but were suddenly penalised just inside our 22. Perksy was adjudged to have tackled without using his arms and their No 10 made no mistake, 17 - 12 at half time.
Mick's team talk seemed to have some good effect, because Cantabs ran the restart back and a high kick from Hayward, was fumbled by Ipswich allowing a rampaging Keegan time to lock up their defender and draw the penalty. Their No 8 rejoined the game. Following the kick into the Ipswich 22, Pete Collins caught the lineout beautifully and Toby set up the backs with a sweeping move over to the left wing. Harri was forced into touch but we were now playing in their 22. Jonnie Heaver moved to the front row for the first scrum of the half and our seven men withstood the Ipswich eight well; Ipswich being penalised for wheeling.
Ten minutes into the half and Perksy was restored to the front row in time for the second scrum of the half. Ipswich then surged forward following a hack through a hesitant Cantabs defence. Tim Charlton went down on the ball 15 metres out from his line, he did not appear to be allowed up, Ipswich won the scrum and somehow got the ball back to their No 8. From 15 metres out he was unstoppable. Ipswich failed to find their kicking tee, and the drop-kick attempt at conversion failed; 22 - 12.
Mick then made changes, Jonnie Heaver and Francois making way for Dan and Ollie Townsend; the latter's first game for our 1st XV. Cantabs then had two good attacks down the left, the first finished with Hayward's kick to the corner, but we lost the lineout. Immediately after it was Bloxsum who moved out to the same wing, skating past three defenders to move us back into the 22. Ipswich then lost their livewire captain to an ankle injury, just as Cantabs won a scrum only ten metres from the Ipswich line. Ipswich were penalised and we took the scrum option again. This time no mistake and Keegan at No 8 took the honours with the dive on the ball as we crossed the line; 22 - 17.
Cantabs tails were now up, Darren Carew replaced Perksy at prop, and was immediately in the action as the Ipswich restart failed to make 10 metres. A session of handbags gave the referee the excuse for an extended chat with both captains, but it was still 15 a side when he finished his lecture. Cantabs moved down the left again through Harri, but he was tackled into touch, Ipswich won their lineout but messed up in an attempt to get their backs running out of their half and were pinged for crossing. From the scrum, Ipswich were penalised, Hayward went for the corner. We won the lineout with Pete's catch, appeared to lose the ball at the base of the maul as it stalled. Suddenly, Toby had the ball and darted through a gap, rounded the shocked Ipswich defence and dived under the posts. James had no problem this time with his conversion; 22 - 24 and just over five minutes left to play. Had Cantabs snatched an unlikely win?
Five minutes is an eternity when you are waiting for the whistle. For two of those minutes we did everything right, then suddenly the ball was lost, an Ipswich boot chipped over the Cantabs defence. The ball sat up beautifully for the following back, and he scored to the right of the posts. This time Ipswich located their tee, and the game was virtually over at 29 - 24. Ipswich came back at us again, we tried to run the ball out of defence and were penalised for not releasing on the edge of our 22. The penalty kick went through the middle and we had lost a point and the game at 32 - 24.
Cantabs scored four tries for a solitary bonus point which was enough to move us above Holt in the league table, but Ipswich took five points and moved themselves to relative safety in the division.
Cantabs will have to play better next week against title contenders, Diss. Our tackling ang aggression, so evident against Holt, was nowhere near the same level. The Ipswich crowd said it was a great game, I guess Mick did not agree.