Lots of changes enforced on Glen Remnant for this trip to Norwich. The home side had enjoyed a good run of wins of late and Cantabs expected a hard game. So it proved. From the fifth minute after a spell of Cantabs pressure, one slip in the Norwich 22 saw their pacey full-back run the length of the pitch to score to the left of the posts.
Soon after his second try was only prevented by a wonderful tackle by Tom Skelton in the left hand corner. Tom recovered after lengthy treatment, but the very next time he came into contact, he could not continue and was replaced by Finlay Laing with Jonny Regan moving to full-back. Meanwhile Norwich had increased their lead to 10 - 0 with a well struck penalty from the 10m line with the aid of a strong following wind.
Cantabs for their part put strings of short passes together, but when the errors came, the Norwich backs raced forward and put us under huge pressure, or a scrum ensued which again saw us under pressure. We hardly lost a line out, enjoyed long spells of possession, but never really threatened the Norwich line. Without a big kicker, again Cantabs were trying to keep the ball in hand at every opportunity. When the errors came our scrum was ineffective and even on our own ball, Danny Richards had to perform heroics at No 8 to scramble the ball out of a fast-retreating pack.
Norwich were kicking long with the wind, their backs running hard and Cantabs were exposed on both flanks as the home side started to push home their advantage, helped by a succession of penalties against Cantabs. A penalty from 30m, a second try in the left hand corner beautifully converted by the Norwich fly half and before we could blink it was 20 - 0.
Cantabs were now also being penalised time and again on our own scrums. Following one of these, Norwich took a quick tap, and kicked over our defence. It took a try saving tackle from Danny under his own posts to prevent another score. But Norwich were not to be denied and a further try soon followed; 27 - 0.
Cantabs then did get close to the line, with a penalty to the right hand corner, but we knocked on at the lineout and the Norwich scrum cleared the danger. Cantabs came back again at Norwich and Finn Morrison was denied a try by Sir, for reasons unknown as he clearly grounded the ball over the line. The half concluded with no further score.
We were allowed to hope for better in the second half, with a strong breeze helping Cantabs; but hopes were soon dashed as Norwich continued where they left off.
There are times when making these reports have been a pleasure for me. But I am afraid this was not to be one of those occasions. Lots of honest endeavour from Cantabs, the lads never gave up on the shirt. Even the prodigal son, Pete Collins and our chairman Laurence Jones were unable to stop a rampant Norwich in the second half. Their 18 stone right winger bullied his way past flailing arms and scored twice in the corner and once ran round to get closer to the posts for his kicker; who only missed once or twice. The score continued to 50 - 0 and thankfully stopped.
Cantabs tried hard but were not good enough. Dean was patched up, as per usual, came back on to take over at scrum half and did bully his way up to the line, but his pass was dropped by Ollie and that was that. We had been camped in the Norwich half for ten minutes as the final whistle went, but never really threatened.
This defeat drops us to ninth in the league table. We now desperately need a win against bottom club Basildon for our next home game. Before that Cantabs host Ely in the Cambs Cup next week; and will need a better performance than this against a side from the division below us, who are looking at a possible promotion.
My man of the match was Danny Richards, returning from injury, to put in a great defensive display at the back of the scrum.