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Cantabs brush off the cobwebs to tackle Wisbech


Cantabs having last played a month ago, were keen to continue their winning run, which stretched back to the second game of the season. Wisbech had made it across the Fens to Sedley Taylor Road and were badly in need of league points to move away from the drop zone. Rich Ford was back at 2nd row behind an unchanged front five and Adam Fastnedge had recovered from injury to resume at inside centre. The Cantabs scrum would doubtless hold the key on a soft pitch. James Hayward was away on work duty, so Finlay Laing took the 10 shirt and Francois Eve took his slot at fullback.

Cantabs kicked off towards the railway on a perfect day for rugby; no wind, no rain and a yielding pitch. Early on we saw a strong run from the Wisbech 2nd row that saw him burst through a couple of tackles and for a few minutes the visitors held onto the ball, but when Cantabs mauled their way to the first scrum, they took over. Fergus Wilson showed a clean pair of heels to his opposite number down the right wing following a flicked pass from Adam Fastnedge. Cantabs gained a penalty five metres out, the scrum surged over the Wisbech line and captain Danny Richards took the honours with our first try of 2020. Finlay made no mistake with the conversion and after three minutes we were up at 7 - 0.

Cantabs were soon back in the opposition 22, Rich Ford secured the lineout ball, the maul did the damage and Finlay suddenly wheeled off the forwards to score to the right of the posts and jogged back to add the extras; 14 - 0.

Jon Perks had a storming run following the restart and yet again the Fenmen were defending desperately. Play was shifted right across to the left and with a huge gap opening up it was too easy for Tom Bailey to add the third try out wide; 19 - 0 with a quarter of the game gone.

Ben Newman then set up the next try with a strong run down the left, got his pass inside to a supporting Drew Tilley, who in turn passed inside to a speeding Ollie Townsend who scored at the posts. Try bonus point secured for the eleventh consecutive match out of eleven. Finlay then tried to challenge himself by taking the tee back to nearly 30m out, chipped his conversion kick, and missed! But we were away and clear on 22 minutes at 24 - 0.

Fergus, then decided to retaliate to some rough treatment on the floor and took a statutory ten minute break to even things up a bit. A well struck penalty from Finlay put a stop to some Wisbech pressure and pushed us into the red zone again. But Cantabs rather went to sleep for the remainder of the half and despite being restored to full numbers there was no further score as the half time whistle approached. However the half ended as it started with Cantabs pressing. A desperate attempt to clear the pressure saw a clearing kick charged down and Ollie Townsend was first to react scoring in the left hand corner. Finlay converted and the half ended at 31 - 0.

Just into the second half, an attack down the left wing saw a delightful kick ahead by Danny Richards, his grubber kick bounced up into the arms of Ollie, who had outpaced the defence, and he scored to the left of the posts; 36 - 0. Francois Eve made good ground down the right and Drew Tilley was denied a try as play was brought back for a forward pass. The Cantabs scrum soon won back possession and Wisbech were back under pressure. Charlie Norrish was now on for Jonny Heaver and Ben Tozer had replaced Isaia, but we noticed little change to Cantabs dominance in the scrum. Cantabs seemed to be guilty of squandering chances as wave after wave of blue and white attacks invariably broke down with the crucial pass missed or thrown wildly. Scrums now went uncontested as Wisbech lost a prop, and had to remove another man as a consequence. The debate as to who that would be went on somewhat until their full-back finally volunteered. The game restarted five metres out from the Wisbech line but somehow Wisbech survived. Not for long though, as Danny Richards scored tries number seven and eight within a minute for his hat trick, before Wisbech were restored to full numbers and normal scrums resumed. The first of Danny's brace was started by Francois breaking from his own 22, and saw some lovely passing move play through half a dozen Cantabs. The second was straight from the restart, with Danny ending the move at the posts; 48 - 0 with the conversion from Finlay.

Fergus joined the try scorers to make it 53 - 0. I cannot recall Wisbech winning a scrum throughout the whole game. Dave O'Neill made a long awaited return as the last of our subs was used, but whatever the combination Glen used in the pack, Cantabs dominance at scrum and lineout was assured. Final front row change saw Perksy replaced by Isaia.

Finn Morrison put the finishing touch to the next sweeping Cantabs move, for a well-deserved try to reward his aggressive tackling throughout the game; 58 - 0. Francois again started the next move with a decisive line break out of his own 22. At least ten other Cantabs players combined to finish the move at the posts and right on the end of the move, diving over, was prop Ben Tozer to finish the best move of the match; score 65 - 0 as Finlay added the extra.

Wisbech restarted, Drew caught the ball, I thought he would pass, but he kept going and somehow he weaved his way through half a dozen attempted tackles and blocks and went virtually to the line before slipping the ball to Adam Fastnedge for the final try and a 70 - 0 scoreline.

Next week we are away to bottom of the league, Beccles, who were beaten 62 - 0 by league leaders West Norfolk this week. Wests stay top from Cantabs by a single point; the title is clearly going down to the last match of the season in April when we host them. Lots of candidates for man of the match, two hat tricks (Ollie and Danny), but for his outstanding link play and aggressive running I gave it to our home-bred Frenchman, Francois Eve.

1 Isaia Barbieri, 2 Tom Bailey, 3 Jon Perks, 4 Jonny Heaver, 5 Ed Foster,

6 Richard Ford, 7 Finn Morrison, 8 Danny Richards (capt), 9 Ollie Townsend, 10 Finlay Laing,

11 Fergus Wilson, 12 Adam Fastnedge, 13 Andrew Tilley, 14 Ben Newman, 15 Francois Eve,

16 Ben Tozer, 17 Charlie Norrish, 18 David O'Neill.


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