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Cantabs 2s prove too strong for Saffron Walden

The winds of change blew through the second team this week, as 10 changes meant starts for Gideon Emanuel, Scott Jackson, Matt Shepard and Tim Fitzmaurice in the pack and a backline much changed outside the consistent half-back pairing of Josh Schmidt and Chris Lovett. The focus of the pre-match chat was discipline, too many penalties in previous weeks have hampered positive score lines and Sir remembered our offsides from week 1.

Walden kicked off short and the ball was claimed by Tighthead Wyoming Jeffries, setting up the ruck on our 10 metre line. Then there came a period of sustained pressure from Cantabs. Chris Kelly and Scott Jackson were making hard yards up the middle and it was opening spaces out wide for the wingers to exploit. Our first real opportunity came out on the left where the ball found its way to Craig Rands who drew and passed to Alex Lord-Swart whose finish in the corner was excellent. 0-5 with Lovett unfortunately missing the conversion from out wide. The next meaningful piece of work came again from our left, as a brilliant combination put Matt Shepard in space, he dummied the wide pass, fooling the outside man and left his inside man for dead with a turn of pace, touching down for 0-10.

Walden seemed to finally move into gear after this and began to press Cantabs in midfield, their big centres running hard and straight but finding little change out of Chris Kelly and Alex B-J. After time their attacks would break down and we were making turnovers on the floor, Michael Pedder excelling at stealing the ball. From turnover ball we felt confident in going wide early, but were perhaps guilty of overzealousness and knocked on in our own 22 a couple of times. Scrums went with the head, our tight five competing well with their experienced unit, but our line was never truly threatened until the second half. Cantabs finished the first 40 minutes strongly and a sustained period of pressure led to Josh Schmidt strolling through a defensive line that parted ahead of him like the red sea. He dotted down under the posts and Lovett converted for 0-17 at half time.

More of the same was the captains request at the half and more of the same was what came from the boys on the pitch. The pressure was being piled on on the right hand side, with strong running from Gideon Emanuel a feature. The space had been opened on the left and Lovett had four unmarked players to hit, choosing Scott Jackson who had a simple finish for 0-22. Charlie Searle, clearly incensed by being the man missed for Scotts try, read a short line out and hammered their second row so hard he had to be substituted in this writers stand out moment of the game.

With the bonus point secure, the Cantabs forwards began to enjoy themselves, one particular exchange with Gideon breaking from the 22, feeding Tim who moved the ball on to Tom Heaver to make ground down the left was a joy to behold. This move was built upon further down the centre of the pitch before Lovett fed Chris Kelly who battered his way through multiple defenders to score. Josh took over kicking and made the score 0-29. At this stage Walden rallied and rode 3 consecutive penalties through our 22 before crashing over under the posts, their 10 missing the kick for 5-29. Clearly stung by conceding, Cantabs werent finished. Harri Beasley hammered through challenges on the right before the ball was swept left, with more quick hands from the forwards bringing us over halfway. Lovett found himself with the ball and did his best impression of Beuden Barrett, flicking an outrageous ball behind his back to Ben Newman who made it look better than it was and made yards. After making further ground up the middle the ball made its way to Newman once again, who cruised in for the final score of the match which was converted by Josh for 5-36.

This was an excellent performance from Cantabs, giving their opposition little in defence and providing a number of utterly lethal scoring moves in attack. After a tough loss in the first game of the season the Seconds have gone from strength to strength and seem to be improving with every match.

Man of the Match: A really tough choice this week, every player put their hand up, but for his hard running, tough tackling and brilliantly taken try it goes to Matt Shepherd.

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