Cantabs made the journey to Chelmsford for the first time in many a year, and were looking for a win after two defeats. Promising youngster, Toby Stockley was on the bench. In the starting lineout Shed was back at second row and Tom Skelton was making his first start for the first team since the beginning of the previous season. For some inexplicable reason the referee allowed the game to commence with both teams wearing identical coloured shirts. The only difference being Chelmsford had predominantly navy blue backs and Cantabs predominantly white.
Cantabs kicked off against the wind, but down the slope. First meaningful attack set Skelton away down the left. His kick ahead was gathered by the opposition, but Sir brought the teams back for an offside against Chelmsford and Hayward kicked into the corner. Pete Collins caught and the pack started the drive. Perfect start again for Cantabs with Shane Rea coming up last and claiming the try from a heap of players on the try line. Cantabs ahead at 0 - 5 after just three minutes.
Chelmsford were soon defending again and having offended too many times at the breakdown were given a warning and Cantabs awarded a penalty 27 metres out to the right of the posts. This time Hayward made no mistake; 0 - 8 after ten minutes. Chelmsford then started to come into the game more and more, but Cantabs defence held firm. Isaia Barbieri finally halted progress when he held their second row on the edge of our 22 and we won the put-in for the first scrum of the match after 12 minutes play.
Cantabs put Skelton away again on the left, but Chelmsford were alert to the danger and came out of their half with their big runners. Harry Wilson was adjudged to have tackled illegally and took a statutory 10 minute break from the action. With a numerical advantage the Essex men started to press well into our territory, but a strong defence from Cantabs kept them at bay. Finally, Chelmsford moved the ball wide to the left and we were unable to prevent a try in the corner after 23 minutes; 5 - 8 with the conversion nowhere close.
Harry Wilson came back on five minutes later, and Ben Tozer took over from Shane at loose head, but Cantabs were defending most of the time. Twice Hayward tried to make his trademark runs out of defence and Dean James tried a kick over the defenders but Chelmsford thwarted all their efforts.The pressure finally told when we offended 28 metres out and their kicker smacked the ball hard against the left hand upright, the impetus just enough for the ball to creep over inside the other post; game levelled up at 8 -8.
The Cantabs forwards then showed how it was done, with Isaia, Tom and Shed combining well to move the ball from our 22 up to halfway. We were done for holding on and Chelmsford used the wind to pin us back again. Hayward then went on one of his runs out of defence and lost the ball into touch on halfway. Chelmsford attacked again, and when they spilled the ball on our 22, Hayward kicked ahead, he was first to the ball and managed a couple more hacks. By then he had moved it into the opposition 22 to the right of the posts and with Jim Bryant looking for the pass on the right, Hayward was tackled without the ball just as he stooped to gather it. The tackle stopped a certain try according to the Cantabs travelling fans, but Sir only awarded a penalty. Our fly-half recovered his breath and slotted it over to make the score 8 - 11 at half time.
Glen read the riot act at halftime and brought on Drew Tilley for Paul Pudney and Toby Stockley for a damaged Dean James at the restart. Toby caught the Chelmsford drop-out and jinked his way forward before moving the ball to Hayward. James' kick found touch at the opposition 10m line. Cantabs won the ball back and it was Stockley again who ran around three defenders to set up Skelton. Tom's progress was halted two metres out under the posts. We recycled the ball shifted it to the right where Jim Bryant was practically decapitated as he went for the line. Luckily for us he kept his head and somehow popped up the ball for a rampaging Dave Evershed who thundered over for the try. The conversion went close but not close enough and Cantabs were ahead at 8 - 16.
A penalty took Chelmsford right up to our 5m line and we had to defend their throw. Cantabs seemed to have averted the danger, but our kick for touch from under our own posts was short of safety and Chelmsford ran it straight back to score under the posts; 15 - 16 and game on.
Chelmsford were caught off-side from the restart and Hayward found touch in the right hand corner ten metres out. We lost the lineout and they broke clear at speed, moving the ball well the length of the pitch and scored again to the right of the posts. Luckily for Cantabs the conversion went wide but the home side were ahead for the first time at 20 - 16 with fifteen minutes to go.
Cantabs pushed forward again, Chelmsford were again caught offside and Hayward hit the corner. Cantabs battered away but could not make the line with the maul so moved the ball wide to the right. This time the lineout was five metres out and Cantabs secured the ball, and went for the line. Tom Bailey seemed to have scored but knocked on in grounding. Chelmsford cleared the danger from the resulting scrum, but yet again were penalised for offside. Hayward again found touch in the left hand corner, Pete Collins caught and the maul did its job again. This time Jonny Heaver took the accolades. Hayward's kick from the touchline was perfect and Cantabs were ahead again at 23 - 20 with five minutes left on the clock.
Now it was Chelmsford going for the winner and when they found touch with a penalty on our 5m line on our left, we feared the worst. Somehow Cantabs just held the first scrum, with both front rows going up. Shane Rea came on for Jonny Heaver, and again Cantabs held-up the Chelmsford scrum three metres from the line. Back to 5m and for the third time Chelmsford put the ball in, up came both front rows, the ball squirted out of the scrum and Cantabs moved it across to Jim Bryant behind our goal who touched it down. Game over, and Cantabs took their first win of the season, somewhat relieved it has to be said.
A good day for the Club, with our 2nds beating Bury St Edmunds 3rds in Eastern Counties 1W and our 3rds also overcoming Cambourne.