Coaching duo of Glen Remnant and Will Riggs were celebrating their 100th game and it was good to see some old faces from previous seasons' teams making the journey back to Sedley Taylor Road for the occasion. Of course many of you will know that the pair of them don't just prepare our teams. Will doubles up as Club Secretary and Glen has been responsible for our club refurbishment over the last year. Together, they have been instrumental in building up the playing strength of the club and the great team spirit which typifies the way we play rugby. Well done lads and here's to the next 100!
There had been injury drop-outs from the side chosen, Rich Ford, James Hayward, Francois Eve, Dean James, were all watching from the touchline. But Perksy was back up front, Finlay Laing was back after a long injutry layoff, and it was great to see Charlie Norrish on the bench after a bad injury sustained at College.
Our opponents were Wanstead, a rivalry which goes back over many years, and this season Cantabs were seeking a very rare double over our Essex friends, having won the first encounter last October. We kicked off towards the railway and immediately won a scrum for a knock-on. Ollie Townsend (in front of his travelling fan club) switched play over to the right and when the ball was recycled Ollie moved the ball out to the left, Jonnie Heaver broke through the first defenders and set up the ball; for Finn Morrison who scored out wide; 5 - 0 with less than two minutes gone.
The next score came from Wanstead. Finlay Laing misjudged a big clearing kick and was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on in his attempt to rectify the situation. Wanstead kicked the penalty into the embankment corner and won their lineout. There seemed to be a forward pass, but we missed a tackle and suddenly Wanstead were under the posts; 5 - 7 with the easy conversion after just seven minutes.
Cantabs came straight back at Wanstead and Elliott Baines went close to scoring in the left hand corner, but Wanstead tacklers won the day. Although our passing was somewhat frenetic at times, we gradually made our way well into the opposition 22, in an extended period of pressure. Perksy and Bailey bulldozed a couple of holes in the defence, but we knocked on. The Wanstead pack could not halt the Cantabs shove, and were penalised for handling in the scrum. Tom Bailey went for a second scrum, just ten metres out, and same story, Cantabs literally marched over the try line with the opposition pack in complete disarray. A penalty try was the outcome and Cantabs were back in front at 12 -7. Wanstead lost a man for ten minutes.
We were now moving the ball very well, with forwards and backs linking well, Jos Crush kicking well when needed and apart from the odd forward pass, the next score looked to be imminent. Forward passes were frequent but only led to scrums and Wanstead were swapping front row people to try and out-scrum Perksy - it never happened! Wanstead for their part were always dangerous on the break with their direct running style and they went very close to scoring in the right hand corner when Cantabs defence was stretched. Cantabs broke away and a great penalty kick to the corner from Jos set up the lineout. Fergus Austin caught, the maul drove up to the line, but stalled. Ollie switched play out to the left and two passes later, Alan Barker broke through a tackle to score under the posts. He converted his own try to make it 19 - 7. We then went down to 14, when Perksy was penalised for not using his arms in the tackle. Wanstead took full advantage to kick the penalty, bringing the score to 19 - 10. There was no further score at half time.
Without Jon perks, we lost the first scrum of the new half and then somebody had a word with Sir, we moved ten metres towards our 22, and Wanstead took full advantage to add the points; 19 - 13.
Cantabs had an even easier chance to score three points, but went for the corner and the over elaborated in their attempts to score the try, and lost out to a resolute Wanstead defence. Perks then resumed his previous role of adding havoc to the Wanstead front row, and frankly from that point there was only one team in it. Our back row and second row tacklers fiercely repelled any hints of a Wanstead revival. Finn Morrison rampaged forward on crash ball after crash ball and when we knocked on invariably we won the ball back with our scrum.
Fergus did seem to score, from the back of one scrum on the left, but Sir disallowed that one, with some technical infringement mentioned. The score came from the next scrum, Ollie moved the ball wide and Jos seized on a diverted pass to score close to the posts. Alan converted to bring the score to 26 -13. Jonnie Heaver and the Wanstead hooker then left the field for ten minutes trailing their handbags. Nobody could work out what had happened, perhaps they just needed the break and came to some sort of (dis)agreement to make it happen.
Finlay then hoisted a huge kick out to the left, where Lew Jones gathered and almost made the line before he was tackled. Jos hit the corner again with a penalty and Cantabs surprisingly did not go for the driving maul, Ollie swung the ball wide and this time Simon New caught the pass at speed. There was no stopping his third try for the 1st XV; 31-13.
Yet another scrum was lost by Wanstead, another hand in the scrum allowing Jos to hit the left hand corner. This time it was a catch and drive, with Tom Bailey taking the honours. Alan made the kick and we moved onto 38 -13. Charlie Norrish entered the fray and immediately was getting involved - the exuberance of youth personified. Fergus Wilson had now arrived and would have scored but for a forward pass. Our pack went close with another catch and drive in the right hand corner, but Sir called "held-up" as we tried to ground the ball over the line. Wanstead dropped out from the goal, but Cantabs came straight back at them and knocked on six metres out.
Final score came when Finn Morrison took control of another crash ball just outside the 22, almost made the line, but was able to pop the ball up out of the tackle, to a supporting Jos Crush; 45 -13. as Alan converted.
Man of the match went to Jon Perks; the week off certainly did him some good. We are all off to Chelmsford next week in an attempt to knock them out of the top four.
1 Isaia Barbieri, 2 Tom Bailey (capt), 3 Jon Perks, 4 Jonny Heaver, 5 Simon New, 6 Tom Stace,
7 Finn Morrison, 8 Fergus Austin, 9 Ollie Townsend, 10 Jos Crush, 11 Lew Jones, 12 Alan Barker,
13 Elliott Baines,14 Andrew Tilley, 15 Finlay Laing, 16 Edward Taylor, 17 Charlie Norrish,18 Fergus Wilson.
Our 2nd XV were at Cottenham in Eastern Counties 1. The squad were decimated by eight late withdrawals from the 1st XV and their own squad, and had to give way eventually to a very strong Renegades side who are pushing for promotion on this form.
1 BenTozer, 2 J-P Middleton, 3 Charles Searle (capt), 4 Rich Lester, 5 David Masters, 6 Jordan Ashton,
7 Ben Campbell, 8 Adrian Mark, 9 Rowan Haines,10 Toby Pym,11 Florian Duchatel,12 Scott Jackson,
13 Alexander Bentley,14 Ben Amos,15 Brenton Dart,16 Tim Fitzmaurice,17 Laurence Jones,
18 Tom Heaver.