Cantabs 3s faced Cambourne at Sedley Taylor Road which looked set to decide 3rd place in EC3W. Great availability meant the home team featured a full complement of subs and some tricky choices for Ash in picking the team.
A minutes silence took place in conjunction with the 1st XV game for the sad loss of one of Norwichs clubmen just the day before and then the team were ready for game time.
With Cantabs playing defending the clubhouse in the first half and receiving the kick it became obvious that Cambourne were up for a game, the aggression in the rucks during the first 20mins was causing all sorts of problems for Cantabs and a succession of penalties meant that the blue and white were confined to their own half for much of the opening exchanges.
Despite some strong carrying from Denman, Tom and Chris a lack of support cost us and we soon found ourselves defending the try line having conceded yet another penalty a few yards out. A powerful charge saw Cambournes forwards power over the line and Cantabs regrouped under the posts. The conversion was made good and Cantabs were the wrong end of a 7-0 scoreline.
Good pressure at the lineout from Rich, and audacious work retrieving the ball from the scrum from Tim was helping to disrupt Cambournes attacking platform but overzealous jackling was consistently penalised. Resorting to tapping penalties Cambourne continued to run hard and straight and confine Cantabs to there 22. Another period of pressure on the 5m line was halted as Cantabs were awarded a penalty 5m from the line for players going off their feet which, spotting the overlap was moved right as the ball was run out however the referee called play back for a forward pass and Cantabs were back under pressure.
Another burst from the Cambourne forwards and another converted try. 14-0 with 20mins gone.
Instructions were barked from under the posts, ice the breakdowns, up the skill levels and retain the ball. Immediately the kick off was overstruck and found touch but disruption at the resulting scrum prevented Cambourne having an attacking platform.
Tom Conder, who had been carrying strongly so far took a knee to the back and was forced to withdraw, with Wy shifting to the flank and Cam taking his place in the centres.
Guns began to interest the defenders around the fringes with his footwork, halting the Cambourne defensive line from pressurising Cantabs attack and good interchange with Luke saw Cantabs finally start to use the width and target Cambourne defenders in the wide channels. Ben crossed on the left and shortly after Craig crossed out on the far right the conversions went wide but the improvement in performance was marked.
Despite forcing Cantabs back into their half Cambourne were not able to reproduce the same disruptive intensity as they had earlier in the half and on the half time whistle Cantabs were just 4 points adrift at 14-10.
Half time saw Ben Tozer on for Janos
The second half started as the first had ended with strong running from Chris, Craig and Ben cutting holes through the Cambourne back line.
Justin and Mark were also making good progress up the middle with the ball, perhaps due to the terrifying nature of the leg garments (with Beast sporting hot pants and Justin in his best yoga pants). Beasts break 10 minutes into the second half saw him burst through a couple of tackles before going one on one with a terrified Cambourne winger who was dutifully flattened and the ball dotted down close to the posts and added the extras.
The order and nature of the scoring and substitutions become hazy at this point, with the Toms coming on for Ash and Mark, the Bens coming on for Ben and Craig, Jim on for Rich and Ryan for Justin
Luke added 2 more tries and Craig cross for his second, another great break down the right saw guns break, make the offload to Luke and then loop round in support, desperately screaming for the ball but Luke was able to go all the way. Desperate to get on the scoreboard Guns took the conversion 47-14 to Cantabs and the game looking increasingly secure. Things went from bad to worse for the Cantabs scrum half as he broke free, looking set for a try of quality with the camera ready to capture the action when instead of dot the ball down he spilt it on into the on looking crowd.
Redemption followed soon after as a strong drive from the scrum turned over the ball and the break to the right allowed Guns to slip under the defenders and take the score to 55-14.
An excellent team performance in the second half, showing how dangerous we can be when the ball goes to hand and some great support play and interchange on an excellent day for the club with the 1s dispatching Norwich 50-14.
MOTM for continual strong running getting us out of trouble on numerous occasions, Chris Kelly
DOTD for spilling the ball over the line, Guns.
Tries (9): Pendlebury (4), Rands (2), Salisbury, Nightingale, Coteman
Conversions (5) Pendlebury (4), Nightingale