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Norwich back row too strong for Cantabs

Norwich were the visitors at Sedley Taylor Road and having doubled Cantabs last season, a difficult game was expected for the home side. Laurence Jones was back at 2nd row and Tom Skelton made his first start for the 1st XV for eighteen months following a terrible run of injuries. Ben Tozer was in at prop for an injured Isaia Barbieri and Tom Stace was at No 8 for yet another injured man, Dean James.

Norwich kicked off towards the railway with persistent rain soaking the pitch and causing both sides to make handling errors. Hayward's plan was obviously to kick long and high at every opportunity to put their fullback and wingers under pressure and to give Matt Houlden a chance to chase down the loose ball. However, for the first ten minutes, Norwich caught the ball well ran back at us and then generally spilled the ball handing back possession to Cantabs. Early scrums were going to Norwich and their No 6 was showing his strength with some driving runs that were causing Cantabs some problems. Cantabs were tackling well and confining play to the centre of the pitch, but not really threatening the Norwich 22.

Ben Newman took a big hit and had to be substituted by Finlay Laing. Norwich made in roads into our 22 and won a scrum ten metres out, made the line but the ball was held up. From the resultant 5m scrum, Cantabs could not hold the drive and the try came; 0- 7 after 22 minutes.

The second try followed shortly after with a catch and maul that Cantabs could not stop; 0 - 14.

Glen brought on Perks and Knights, the scrum settled down and from our first attack, we got into the Norwich 22 for the first time in the game but knocked on. Although Norwich scrambled the ball back from their scrum, their clearing kick was charged down and Richard Knight shot through the defence to win the chase to the bouncing ball in goal by a short hand and grounded the ball at full dive. Hayward's kick was blown away from goal but Cantabs were back in it at 5 - 14.

Cantabs went close when Richard Knight knocked on in another attempt to cross the line, but the Norfolk men were up to the challenge and forced their way back into our half with some strong drives. Then right on the stroke of half time, their back row again made holes in our defence and the third try was scored at the right hand post; 5 - 21.

The second half saw Cantabs on the ascendancy for most of the half, Norwich defence was up to it however and although we were winning the scrums and Laurence Jones was taking his fair share of the lineouts, chances to score were few and far between. Jonnie Heaver and Perksy battled away, James Hayward's kicks were getting closer and closer to the left hand corner but Cantabs play close to the try line was too frantic and time and again we threw away chances to score . I cannot recall any real chances for Norwich in the second half, but to their credit their defence was never really in danger.

The second half remained scoreless but was spoilt for Cantabs by another bad knee injury, this time to Tom Stace, who had enjoyed a good game at No 8. The final whistle went with the score still 5 - 21.

Cantabs have a week to recoup and try to get there walking wounded back into action for what will be a crucial game against bottom of the table Basildon in a fortnight. Lots of honest endeavour from a young Cantabs team, but the wins are not yet coming.

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