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Ipswich do just enough to end our winning run

Top of the table Ipswich were the visitors at Sedley Taylor Road this week, and Cantabs were looking to avenge that. 22 - 3 defeat at the beginning of October. At least it had stopped raining when the game commenced, but the ground was sodden after 12 hours of rain. We started without Francois Eve, who had tweaked a hamstring in warm-up. Rowan Haines was called away from the 3rd XV game which had kicked off an hour earlier.

Cantabs attacked the clubhouse end and after a couple of good clearances from the boot of James Hayward, Ipswich were caught offside and Alan Barker, an ex Ipswich player, scored from the penalty after just two minutes. But, after five more minutes of cat and mouse play, Ipswich brought the scores level with a penalty of their own.

James kicked another penalty into the left hand corner. Ford caught the lineout, the maul formed, but Ipswich were wise to our forward strength and did not compete, as soon as the ball was shifted to the back of the maul, Sir called offside, and the chance had gone. Cantabs went ahead next with another penalty from Alan, after Hayward again hit the Ipswich 22 with a solid kick. Although Cantabs were having the best of the game and were camped in the Ipswich half, their defence at the rucks was excellent and the visitors duly broke away and won another penalty when we did not release at the tackle. From 20m out wide on the left their flyhalf brought the sides level at 6 - 6.

A great run from their tall fullback, set up good position for Ipswich, in the right hand corner, as we tackled their winger into touch. Ipswich were on top at this stage and a penalty kick from James was caught on the touchline by the Ipswich left wing who ran 45 metres unchallenged down the touchline well into our 22. The pressure showed as Jonny Heaver was yellow carded for talking back at the referee, after two team warnings for chat. Cantabs then had to defend a 5m penalty. The catch and drive and the ensuing bombardment of our line, was enough and Ipswich finally scored out wide. No 10 made no mistake with the conversion, and Ipswich were clear at 6 - 13.

Cantabs continued to press, Ipswich were now also down to 14 men with a yellow card and we were dominating the scrums and at the breakdown to put huge pressure on the Ipswich defence. We won a penalty under the posts, and perhaps Ipswich were expecting to have to scrum, but our human tank, Tom Bailey, had other ideas, tapped and went over virtually unopposed; 13 -13. Ipswich went desperately close to scoring when a charged down kick went dead before Ipswich could touch down. Cantabs again had another chance to score with a 5m lineout in the right hand corner. But it was the same result. Lineout caught, maul formed, Ipswich not competing and Sir blew up for offside. No further score as half time came.

Ipswich took the lead after half time with another well taken penalty when one of our forwards did not roll away from the tackle. Dean James came on for Jonny Heaver, with Simon New moving to 2nd row, and Isaia replaced Ben Tozer at prop. Ipswich continued to be put under pressure by our scrum and were penalised 15m out for collapsing the scrum. Then too much back chat saw the penalty moved to 5m out, and naturally, Cantabs opted for a scrum. After two restarts and a yellow card for their hooker, the third attempt saw Ipswich pushed back in complete disarray and Rich Ford touched down as the scrum crossed the line. However, Sir had seen their scrum breaking up completely and awarded a penalty try; 20 - 16, and Cantabs back in front.

Cantabs tried to run back the restart kick, where have we heard that one before? We were caught in possession in their own 22 but somehow survived the pressure when Ipswich knocked on. The two sides then slugged it out in the forwards, with neither side allowed any rhythm as the whistle was heard perhaps too much, and the game stopped flowing. The next score followed an Ipswich scrum on the edge of our 22, quick ball allowed for once allowed them to move the ball wide to the left and their winger scored at the corner flag. Another immaculate conversion followed from their fly half and Ipswich were back in front at 20 - 23. Jonny Heaver then replaced Ed Foster. The first two attacks were from Cantabs, but we failed to make touch with a penalty and Ipswich were allowed to breathe again. Our lineouts were being defended well and Ipswich went further ahead with another penalty from out wide on the left; 20 - 26 and we were into the last five minutes, plus added time.

Matt Burson had a beautiful diagonal run, leaving defenders in his wake as he moved from his own half into their 22, but the Ipswich defence was able to cover his pass out to our winger, and they took man and ball into touch just 5m out. Then, James McCaskie made good ground on the left, Deano carried on the good work and suddenly we were well into the opposition 22. Finally James Hayward took command and shot through the defence to score at the corner flag. Alan Barker had a last chance to win the game form the touch line, but his conversion kick just passed by the far post on the wrong side, and it was game over at 25 - 26.

One bonus point for Cantabs and four points to Ipswich means they stay top seven points ahead of Cantabs, who moved up to fourth, with Chelmsford losing to Woodford. Still a lot to play for, the season is far from over.

Ipswich flyhalf won the game for them; he never missed a kick, from hand or tee. They will know they have been in a game, but their tactics at the lineouts and against our driving maul in particular, stopped one of Cantabs best scoring moves. For us Matt Burson showed just how good he is, on one of his rare appearances for Cantabs, when he is back from College. Finn Morrison's charging runs were well defended by Ipswich, their defence was hard to break down. Next up we travel to the posh side of Norwich and the immaculate facility at Wymondham.

The 2nd XV game against Haverhill was conceded when Haverhill could not put out a full team, which left us with 27 players wanting a game. In the end after some great inter-club co-operation, our 3rds played what they called the Cantabaabaas who included players from Cantabs, Sawston, Haverhill, Ely, Newmarket, Fakenham, St Ives, Wendens Ambo and Deeping. Tom Heaver captained our 3rds and what a great result for social club rugby it turned out to be! When you consider that Cantabs had another full team of players unavailable because of work and other commitments, it shows the current strength of our playing membership. Despite the single point defeat to Ipswich, this is becoming a season to remember.

1 Ben Tozer, 2 Tom Bailey (capt), 3 Jon Perks, 4 Ed Foster, 5 Jonny Heaver, 6 Simon New, 7 Finn Morrison,

8 Richard Ford, 9 Ollie Townsend,10 James Hayward,11 James McCaskie,12 Alan Barker,13 Alex Myers,

14 Andrew Tilley,15 Matt Burson,16 Isaia Barbieri,17 Dean James,18 Rowan Haines.


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