This was a "must win" game for Cantabs, if they were to retain their place in London 2. Cantabs had shaded the game at Southwold in the wind and rain, but the Suffolk side had moved into relative mid-table safety since then. It was all change in the front row for Cantabs with Ben Tozer at hooker and Ryan Moclair drafted in for Perksy, who was away working. Ollie Dakin was at second row and Tom Stace at blind-side. Danny Richards had travelled to Oz so Rich Ford took over at No 8. Kieran Dolaghan was also back at full-back. Most importantly, it was good to see Glen Remnant back on the touchline for his first league game back after his enforced visit to Papworth.
After a disastrous run of losses, the Cantabs faithful supporters lived in hope more than expectation as the game kicked off, with Cantabs attacking the railway end. The pitch was flat and yielding, the weather was perfect for rugby.
Cantabs started the game well but on the couple of occasions that Southwold attacked they looked threatening. Play was mostly limited to the centre of the pitch as both teams strived to make an impact, but Cantabs were tackling well and looked to be up for this one. The first chance to open the scoring came when Drew Tilley made a good break through the centre and won the penalty thirty metres out. Kieran struck the ball well to give us a 3 - 0 lead after ten minutes play.
Cantabs put another promising attack together but crossing on the edge of the Southwold 22, brought that move to an end. Finn Morrison was tackling like his life depended on it and his efforts seemed to be influencing the rest of the team to get stuck in. Southwold rarely threatened and for ten minutes it was the blue and whites that were looking the more likely to score. Kieran kicked a penalty into the corner. Rich Ford secured the lineout and Cantabs mauled towards the try line. But when the maul halted and the ball was spun out, the pass landed at the feet of Nuggett and he couldn't hold on; chance gone.
Cantabs again won a penalty; this time into the right hand corner. Cantabs took the option to pass rather than maul and Ollie looped round and passed out long to the left where Tom Stace took the ball at speed and from 25 metres out hit a gap and there was no stopping him. He made the line to the left of the posts and Kieran made no mistake; 10 - 0 to Cantabs after half an hour.
Next score went to the visitors, they won a penalty for offside 30 metres out and this brought the score to 10 - 3. There were no further scores up to half time.
Glen made no changes to the side at the break and when play restarted, Southwold made all the early running. However, the first chance of points came to Cantabs with a penalty close to half way. Kieran fancied his chances but although he got the distance, the kick faded passed the right hand post. The next chance came when Dean James made one of his trademark runs, taking the pass at speed on halfway, and shooting through a gap. With one man to beat he passed to the left where Isaia was in support. Somehow, a defender got across to halt our big Italian on the try line and the try was saved. Sir brought play back for a Cantabs penalty and Kieran made the kick to give us a 13 - 3 lead.
Southwold then started to make progress down the right and we found ourselves defending a scrum fifteen metres out. Throughout the game Cantabs had done well to secure the ball at the back of a retreating scrum and Rich Ford and Dean had combined well to wrestle the ball to safety. But on this occasion, Dean elected to go for a box kick. Their flanker was way off side, not spotted by Sir, he charged down the kick and Southwold scored in the corner. The conversion struck the right hand post and stayed out, but the visitors were back in the game at 13 - 8.
From the restart, Dean immediately made amends with a huge tackle that woke up the Cantabs crowd. Dean secured the ball and we won a penalty for not releasing. Kieran hit the left hand corner with his kick, Rich Ford won the lineout and Ollie found Finn Morrison with his pass. Finn had to blast through three tackles and our pocket rocket scored to the left of the posts.
A great try and one he certainly deserved on the day's performance. Again, Kieran made the extra, and Cantabs were back in control at 20 - 8.
Southwold were not to be beaten and Cantabs found themselves defending scrum after scrum deep in their 22. Finally, Southwold moved the ball out to the right. Their winger apparently stepped into touch, but the flag did not go up and he scored in the corner. The conversion was also on the money and the Suffolk me were back in at 20 -15.
Kieran restored the lead to an eight point advantage with another well struck penalty from 35 metres; 23 - 15. But Southwold were now pressing for the bonus point that would give them safety in the league. They had the first chance with a penalty from close to half way, but the kick drifted wide. There was now just two minutes left on the clock and with virtually no stoppages there clearly was little extra time to add on. Southwold were not to be denied however and again made ground on the right and again scored in the corner. This time the conversion was good; 23 - 22. Sir called time immediately and the width of a post had effectively given Cantabs a much needed win.
This victory moved Cantabs a point clear of relegation, but we now face two difficult away matches at Romford next week and Ipswich the week after. Man of the match was awarded to Finn Morrison, and well deserved it was.