A crucial game at Sedley Taylor Road with Chelmsford and Cantabs at the foot of London 2NE. Cantabs welcomed back Richard Knight at scrum half after a serious shoulder injury received in October. No sign yet of our other injured players, and with a long run of defeats prior to this game, Cantabs needed to find some form. The Chelmsford crowd out-numbered the Cantabs supporters 2 to 1 as Ollie Townsend kicked off towards the railway on a soggy pitch expected to cut-up.
Chelmsford ran the ball back and with their scrum winning the early scrums easily, we were looking at a frustrating day again. The Chelmsford full-back was kicking well to touch and Cantabs were unable to get their passing game going. First points went to the visitors, Cantabs caught offside 30m out, and the Chelmsford kicker made no mistake; 0 - 3.
Ollie's restart kick was on the money, but the Cantabs attack petered out with a knock-on and an inevitable scrum loss. Chelmsford pressed into our 22, and went close, but Cantabs defence held firm. Two 5m scrums were just about held and the second saw the Chelmsford No 3 pulling down the scrum, and Nick Denham kicked us clear. From the lineout, Richard Knight, went through their line and kicked over the defence. Tom Bailey gathered and got the ball back to Richard. He kicked ahead for the speedy Matt Houlden on the wing and Matt just failed to touch down before the ball went dead.
Cantabs then won a 5m scrum and although we won possession, the visitors pressure caused Pete Collins to lose the ball at the back and the moment had passed. Cantabs were now having the territorial advantage and were it not for a couple of crooked throws, on 5m on the right we could have scored. Chelmsford kicked clear and then had two chances to increase their lead with penalties from 30 and 40m.
Again Richard kicked over the defence and the ball was gathered by Matt on the wing. It took a superb tackle from their full-back to force him into touch inside their 22. Cantabs were soon back on the attack down the right, Chelmsford lost possession at the back of the scrum inside their 22, Richard sniping away caused the damage, and got Francois away on the right, two high tackles finally halted him two metres out. We went for the lineout option, but the throw was crooked, and Chelmsford kicked clear from the resultant scrum.
We recovered the ball on their 22, moved it wide and again Houlden went close in the left hand corner. Halftime whistle went.
Chelmsford started the better after the break, but our defence held firm. Finally Chelmsford got a chance to increase their lead, the penalty from 28m out was converted and it was 0 - 6.
Still our scrum was struggling and Jonnie Heaver swapped with Ben Tozer, to try and sort things. Dan Searle came on for Harry at open-side, but Charlie Searle was left on the bench. Now their full-back was kicking us out of the game with some fine place kicking. One such kick from just outside their own 22, was helped into touch on our 22. Their lineout was secured the ball moved across the field, the first time they had strung enough passes together, and suddenly their right winger was in at the corner. An excellent conversion from the touchline added the extra and Cantabs were 0 -13 adrift.
Jonny Regan came on for Francois, and Charlie Searle replaced Ollie at 2nd row. Cantabs now required two converted tries and most of could not see where they were going to come from. The Chelmsford star full-back was now at fly-half and dictating the game with his kicking.
Suddenly from his own 22, Matt Houlden weaved his way down the right up to half way. We won the ball at the breakdown and the ball was moved left to Ollie Blackmur who out ran the defence, rounded them and touched down close enough to the posts for Nick to convert; 7 - 13. Sir announced there was three and a half minutes left and Cantabs succeeded in getting the play into the Chelmsford half, but their big forwards wrapped it up successfully for the duration of the half a,d when Sir announced last play were able to kick to touch. Game over.
So, another defeat and this was one we needed to win. We are still second from bottom with three other clubs all on 12 points. Next week we are again at home, but Rochford Hundred are the visitors, unbeaten and averaging 50 odd points a game. No respite expected for Glen and the lads!
Richard Knight had an excellent game. Matt Houlden shows great promise, and we need to get the ball to him more often. Tom was like a rock with the ball in hand. Our youngsters are learning fast, but they need the likes of Shed, Finn, Dean and most of all James Hayward back playing before the season is dead and gone. Come on Cantabs!