Cantabs expected a tough game against their Suffolk opponents for this London 2 encounter. We were missing James Hayward and Nick Denham along with top try scorer David Bloxsum; it was all change in the backs. So, Jonny Regan started at full-back, Euan Willder at fly-half and new boy Alex Rayner came in on the right wing. Apart from No 8, the pack had a familiar look to it; Pete Collins in for Jamie Williams, and the return of Dave (Shed) Evershed and Tom Bailey after injury.
The pitch was immaculate, as usual, and on a clear cloudless day we kicked off under floodlights. Although at first glance both teams appeared to be in similar colours Cantabs started the better and their backs were probing for an outlet with some neat passing. The first two scrums were won against the head and this set the general pattern for the day. Paul Pudney made the first meaningful break with a strong run down the left, but got himself isolated. Drew Tilley was next to threaten the line but was caught five metres out. Ipswich for their part seemed to be relying on their big forwards who battered away each time we lost possession. Our domination at the scrum and lineout was denying the home side any service to the backs, and our aggression at the breakdown and in the tackle kept us well on top. The pressure finally told with the award of a penalty on the 22, and Euan made no mistake, to make it 0 - 3 after eight minutes.
Dean James was spoken to for a typically aggressive hit, which was a fraction too late, but Cantabs were clearly unsettling the home side. Cantabs then failed to deal with a high kick up to our 22, and Ipswich tested our defence with a five minute spell in and around our 22. The captains were then spoken to as Deano and one of their forwards inspected one another's hand bags. We had three good chances to put Francois away on the left wing, he failed to gather one pass but the other two final passes were not on the money. However, after a ten minute spell in our own half, Cantabs finally got clear with a break from Shed and Tom Bailey down the left. From the ruck Perksy started to motor as well and we were threatening to score again. Richard Knight took a break for a blood injury, bringing 2nd team captain Laurence Jones into the back row with Dean moving to No 9. From the very next scrum, some slick passing put Alex away on the right and he was able to demonstrate some great speed, making 35 metres into their 22. Cantabs recycled and our two centres combined to go close on the left. But play was brought back as Ipswich had strayed off-side. Euan again made no mistake; 0 - 6 after 34 minutes play.
Pete Collins was now creating havoc each time Ipswich had a lineout, and from one such steal, Tom Bailey shot through on the blindside with a 30m gain down the left. From the ruck Dean recycled the ball over to the right and again Alex Rayner showed a clean pair of heels to the opposition, was half tackled ten metres out but had the strength to get up from the broken attempt and just made the line with his dive. This time Euan's conversion sailed the wrong side of the post from out wide, but Cantabs were deservedly ahead at 0 - 11. Shed then left the game with his perennial shoulder injury, Charlie Searle in at 2nd row, and Laurence replaced by a repaired Richard Knight. There was time for another run by Alex on the right, and we wasted a two man overlap on the left but there was no further score as the half finished. Glen took the team back into the dressing room for a full ten minutes of his wisdom.
Cantabs were defending as Ipswich pressed immediately after the break, but we won the ball back through Francois, who made 30m down the left before kicking beautifully ahead and nailing their fullback on the Ipswich 22 as he tried to counter-attack. Ipswich scrum was in total disarray as they defended deep in their 22, somehow getting the ball away. At the very next scrum to us, Ipswich front row were up, and Euan's penalty gave us a 5m lineout. Pete Collins took a clean catch, the maul formed and there was no answer to the drive; Laurence Jones gaining the plaudits for the try. Euan's kick from ten metres in on the right was immaculate; Cantabs ahead at 0 - 18 with 50 minutes gone.
Jonny Heaver started the very next attack after the restart, taking a quick tap and gaining twenty metres before bringing his captain into the move on his shoulder. Perksy moved into the Ipswich half at speed, but just mistimed his pass as he drew the tackle and another overlap on the right went begging. However, although Ipswich won their lineout this time, they seemed to be surprised and lost possession. Glen then used his final sub, with Xaver Touschek coming onto right wing and Alex moving to centre.
Euan again kicked to the corner, this time on the left, we tried the maul again from the lineout, but this time Ipswich were alive to the threat. We then gained a scrum ten metres out, again Ipswich were penalised. Perksy surprised everyone with a quick tap and there was no stopping him, as he made the line, ten metres out from the flag. Euan's kick struck the far post and went over to make it 0 - 25 with 15 minutes left on the clock.
The restart kick pegged us back in our own 22, and we tried to run the ball out and got caught in possession. Their big men hammered away at our defence, finally breaking through from 10m out to score under the posts; 7 - 25.
Euan's restart kick was on the money; the smallest man on the pitch, Finn Morrison caught the ball cleanly and set up yet another attack. Isaia Barbieri made a good break into the Ipswich 22, the support was not up in time and he was penalised for not releasing. Further, Sir gave him a yellow, somewhat harshly, having warned us too many times apparently. This was immediately followed by another yellow to Xaver for seemingly the same offence as he defended the next Ipswich attack. So it was 15 against 13 as we had to defend two Ipswich penalties from our try line. Cantabs were up to it and weathered the storm to kick clear. Twice, Pete and Dean won their lineouts and Euan's kicks inched us towards our ten metre line. The threat from Ipswich had passed and another kick from Euan moved us into their 22. Pete Collins again caused mayhem in the lineout, they panicked and threw out a forward pass. Charlie at prop now, and we were awarded a penalty for offside, just 5m out. Perksy elected for another scrum and Isaia was restored to the scrum at just the right moment. The scrum moved over the try line, but when it seemed Ipswich had to be penalised for breaking up, we were pinged for knocking on. We won their scrum yet again and this time surprised Ipswich by moving the ball wide to the left. A hint of a forward pass, perhaps, but Jonny Regan took the honours going over in the left hand corner. That was the bonus point secured and another bonus when Euan's conversion went over to make it 7 - 32. Cantabs had scored despite being a man down!
Pete Collins took a break, having done his job. Ipswich were pinned back in their 22, tried to run it clear, a pass on the Ipswich 22 in front of their posts was intercepted by Alex, and he beat two despairing tackles and dived over to the right of the posts; 7 - 37, Euan's kick hitting the far post and saying out. Final whistle followed.
So, that's six games unbeaten, including three away wins at Ipswich, Norwich and Woodford; all three of those clubs having exited London 1 in recent seasons. Cantabs are playing their best rugby and on this form will be a match for anyone in the division.
Next week Holt are the visitors to Sedley Taylor Road, don't miss it!