Cantabs made the trip to Romford again for this return fixture against pointless Campion. With Isaia Barbieri injured following the County game and captain Jon Perks having to work until 1.00, it meant Ben Tozer and Charlie Searle started at prop. Shed was back in the 2nd row after missing a couple of starts through injury. There was also debut starts for Ollie Townsend and Jamie Faed in the backs. Perksy arrived just as the game kicked off.
Cantabs kicked off down the slope and were soon on top, the first two scrums causing the home side some real problems. After just five minutes, James Hayward found the right hand corner with a penalty. Pete Collins caught the lineout the maul formed and Shed pealed off with the ball to score taking two defenders over the line with him. Rugby can sometimes be quite straightforward; 0- 5 and we were up and running.
It took Campion almost ten minutes to mount an attack into our half, and when the did so, Cantabs were able to deal with the pressure easily. Hayward made the next break from halfway up to the opposition 22. We shifted the ball to the right and then back again to the left wing, where Jamie Faed had the easiest of tasks to score in the corner; his first try for the 1st XV. Again James could not slot the conversion, but it was plain sailing at 0 - 10 and 22 minutes gone.
From a long lineout on our 22, Finn Morrison caught the ball and set off on one of his runs. He made it to the Campion 22, before spilling the ball in an attempt to pass out of the tackle. At this stage it was all Cantabs but the pressure was not resulting in points. Our scrum was dominant, even though Charlie and Jonnie heaver had now swapped roles. Pete Collins was stealing the odd lineout and our aggression at the breakdown was paying dividends.
More pressure from Cantabs caused the Campion defenders to have to touch down in goal. Our forwards had a go following the 5m scrum, but all the battering ram approach came to nothing and finally the ball was moved out to our backs. A long pass from Hayward to the left to Jamie, and a further pass to Ollie, allowed him to also score his first ever try for the 1st XV. 0 - 15 and Cantabs were well on top.
However, for a team without a solitary league point, Campion were playing with a lot of spirit and started to gain in confidence when a couple of penalties moved them up to a 5m lineout. Their forwards then battered our line for an extended period. Two attempts to score were held up, their supporters were willing the home side on, but Cantabs' defence was up to the task.
No further score as the half finished, and no changes to the Cantabs side as the game restarted. Initially, Campion with the slope in their favour had the best of the territory. Ten minutes into the half and captain Perks joined the front row with Jonnie taking a break. Glen then brought on Nathan Davenport to replace Shed, hoping the big man's back would be up to the job against Norwich next week. Ollie was replaced by Rick Peters on the left wing. Campion certainly knew Perksy had arrived when their front row were stood up at the very first scrum. Seeing this, our leader elected for a scrum on the edge of the 22, at the next penalty. We shoved their pack back ten metres and strangely elected to tap, got isolated and the chance had gone.
Ben Tozer was temporarily removed from the front row, sustaining a dead leg and Jonnie went back to prop. The very next scrum, saw the Campion front row in disarray. James tapped the penalty twenty metres inside our half, passed to Drew Tilley and ran round him for the return. Bloxy was up with him shouting for the ball, James ghosted round two defenders, Bloxy was now swearing at him to pass the ball out. Our flyhalf had none of it and ran in to score to the right of the posts. This time he made the conversion; 0 - 22 and the bonus point secured.
Charlie Searle took a well-earned break and Tozer went back into the front row. Campion continued to press and a quick tap penalty from their flyhalf saw him make the break and he was supported well by the 2nd row, who just managed to ground under the posts for a well-earned try. The conversion was a formality; 7 - 22.
Ollie Townsend was then sent back on at flyhalf "to see how he coped" as Glen put it. The young man did not disappoint and it gave us the chance to keep James right for next week. For the umpteenth time, their No 8 was involved in a fracas and this time was spotted by the lady referee (who incidentally had a very good game), and took no further part in the game.
That was about it, final score 7 - 22. Cantabs should probably have scored more, but with so many first choice players not available, it was a great chance to try out some new blood. In all 31 players were unavailable this week and the knock-on effect was a weakened 2nd XV and no game for the 3rd XV.
We are back at Sedley Taylor road next week, St Bernadette's Day and the visit of old adversaries, Norwich. Madame Eve is slaughtering duck as I write this in readiness for "Confit de canard". If you have not booked your place at the pre-match lunch, you should delay no longer.