Ipswich YM were the visitors for our 1st XV in only the second game of the New Year. Jos Crush began at flyhalf with James Hayward moving to inside centre alongside Adam Fastnedge. Rowan Haines made his debut on the right wing. Our front row was unchanged and Pete Collins and Rich Ford were both included to provide plenty of options in the lineouts. There was also good strength on the bench but as Ipswich YM ran league leaders West Norfolk close last week, a competitive game was anticipated.
Cantabs kicked off towards the railway but the first attack was spoilt by a crooked lineout. The next attack down the left saw James Hayward make ground following the very next lineout. He then slipped a pass behind his back to a speeding Fergus Wilson on the left wing. Fergus left the YM defence for dead to score in the corner. Finlay Laing hit the conversion long, high and true from the touch line; 7 - 0 yp Cantabs after just three minutes.
Following the restart Adam Fastnedge threaded a kick through the defence towards the YM try line. James Hayward was just beaten to the touchdown, but so far it had been Cantabs doing all the attacking. Hayward already seemed to be enjoying his new role and followed up on his kick ahead but allegedly knocked on in his attempt to gather the ball by the touchline. From the resultant scrum, Cantabs made it difficult for the YM No 8 and Ollie Townsend was up quickly to harass his opposite number and succeeded in stealing possession. He shot off towards the line and got within 5m. Cantabs were awarded a penalty and opted for the scrum, again Ollie went close, but when he recycled the ball, it was Pete Collins that applied the finishing touch for try number two; 12 - 0.
Ipswich then mounted a serious attack for the first time in the match. Their fullback outpaced three of our tacklers before being bundled into touch at the left hand corner flag. Cantabs took the lineout though and Jos Crush kicked superbly to find touch on halfway. Sir brought us back for a Cantabs penalty and Hayward found touch. Again Rich Ford won the lineout, Ollie found the gap in the line, passed out to a supporting Danny Richards wide on the right which looked forward to us on the touchline. Danny continued his run to score under the posts; 19 - 0.
Perksy was set away on the right by a beautifully timed pass from Jos Crush, and now Cantabs were starting to show their supporters some really crisp passing, which was putting YM under huge pressure. A penalty from Hayward found the right hand corner, an unnamed supporter (initials M T-J) hurried the ball back to Tom Bailey for the lineout. Ford & Co moved back, YM anticipating a long throw moved with them; Tom threw short to Danny at the front, he returned the pass and Tom scored in the corner. That was the try bonus; secured for the 12th game out of 12; 24 - 0 and just 23 minutes played. The next try followed soon after; this time Rich Ford made a break from his own 10m line when YM spilled the ball, He ran 50 metres and just as he was tackled, slipped the ball out left to hooker Tom Bailey who went under the posts for number five; 31 - 0.
YM then made ground into our 22, but their scrum came under immense pressure and Cantabs were able to clear the danger. The ball was secured by Finn Morrison from the first breakdown and he wriggled through the first tackle broke through two more tackles, and was now over halfway, he sidestepped the next tackler brushed off the fullback and just beat the YM winger to touch down under the posts with (according to Perksy after the game) five Cantabs up in support all calling for the ball. A superb try from our star openside, which ultimately made him man of the match. Again, Perksy said he would have killed him if he hadn't scored! That made the score 38 - 0 with Finlay's conversion.
Hayward's restart kick went deep, Cantabs forced the error and won a scrum just inside the 22. The scrum pushed YM right back to their line. Ollie went close and was held. The next scrum on 5m followed and the Cantabs pack was only denied by one of the YM defenders breaking to prevent the touchdown; penalty try was the decision, and it was now 45 - 0. The scrum again gave the platform for the next score. This time Hayward broke down the right wing from halfway and found Ollie up in support on his left. Our scrum half made no mistake, scoring under the posts; 52 - 0 at half time.
Glen brought on all three subs at half time. Tim Kirkconel for Isaia Barbieri, Ed Foster for Pete Collins and Drew Tilley for Fergus. Although Cantabs were pressing, the first score of the second half went against the run of play. One to many passes from Cantabs perhaps as they continued to throw the ball about. The YM outside centre took the ball from the edge of his own 22 and outpaced everyone to score under our posts; 52 - 7.
It took 12 minutes for Cantabs to score, and again it was a penalty try as Ollie was denied a touchdown illegally at the base of another good scrum; 59 - 7. Cantabs continued to thrill the crowd with some outstanding play with ball in hand, but disaster struck again with yet another interception from deep inside the YM half. This time their man was pushed a little wider, but to no avail, and the score moved to 59 -14. Cantabs then tightened up and I cannot recall another meaningful attack from the visitors. Our tackling and harassing was superb, our passing mesmerising at times, and the scoreboard continued to tick over.
Isaia was back on, and Perksy took his bow from an appreciative Cantabs crowd. Isaia was somehow spear tackled by a YM prop, quite a feat I thought at the time. Sir was not so keen however and waved his yellow card. YM to their credit never gave up and there was never any real malice in their play. Hayward kicked the penalty to the left hand corner. Rich Ford caught, the maul did its job but was stopped illegally. Danny opted for a penalty scrum and took full advantage by coming off the back to score in the corner; 64 - 14 as Finlay's kick shaded the outside of the near post.
Pete Collins resumed with Rich Ford taking time out. It was now just a case of how many more scores Cantabs could make and it was Ollie who again teamed up with Jos this time to score under the posts; 71 - 14. Jonny Heaver then took a break and Rich Ford was back on, Finn came off briefly as well. Cantabs then won the ball on their ten metre line and moved the ball out to Rowan, his pass inside found Hayward and he found Danny who went in under the posts for his hat trick; 78 -14. Hayward was then denied a try, having been brought back for a forward pass. Final score of the day came minutes later though. YM lost the ball trying to play out of their own 22 from the resultant scrum. Their man was caught on his own line and was penalised for not releasing. From our 5m scrum, it was Finn Morrison (yes he was back on again) who shot through the defence to score unchallenged. Final score 83 -14.
West Norfolk head the division now 6 points clear of Cantabs in 2nd, but we have a game in hand. Next week we travel to Norwich Crusaders, who lost 59 - 22 to West Norfolk today; so a good form guide yet again. This was probably the most complete team performance of the season and on this form Cantabs are going to be hard to beat.
It was also good to see Dean James making a cameo come-back appearance for the 3rd XV against St Ives 2nds (Cantabs won 54 - 15) after his serious shoulder injury back in October.
1 Isaia Barbieri, 2 Tom Bailey, 3 Jon Perks, Jonny Heaver, 5 Richard Ford,
6 Pete Collins, 7 Finn Morrison, 8 Danny Richards (capt), 9 Ollie Townsend, 10 Jos Crush,
11 Rowan Haines, 12 James Hayward, 13 Adam Fastnedge, 14 Fergus Wilson, 15 Finlay Laing,
16 Tim Kirkconel, 17 Ed Foster, 18 Andrew Tilley.