Southwold were the visitors to Sedley Taylor Road, and Cantabs were looking to reverse a heavy 58 point loss when we went to the seaside in October. Alan Barker took over at flyhalf from James Hayward, and Finlay Laing moved to centre with Charlie McConnell in at full back. Good to see Ed Foster on the bench after an extended absence with concussion.
Southwold made the early running, and met with resolute defence from Cantabs. Tom Stace used his strength to battle up field from the first two scrums and alleviated the early threat. Finlay Laing took advantage of a penalty to find the embankment in the left hand corner, and at the second time of asking our lineout secured the ball, the maul worked its magic and Tom Bailey blasted over to put us up at 5 - 0.
Jack Hopkins showed what he could do with a great break from centre to set up another attack, but his pass to Finn Morrison in support was just off the mark. Cantabs soon regained possession through Tom Bailey, he went through the first tackler was not held by the second and ploughed on through the next tackle to score to the right of the posts. Finlay's kick was on the mark this time; 12 - 0 after 18 minutes.
Southwold got the next score with a forwards try to the right of our posts, but the conversion was weak; 12 - 5.
Shortly after the restart Alan Barker put in a lovely chip-kick over the defence and out to the right wing where Sean Cooper caught the ball at speed one-handed and made it all the way to the corner; 17- 5. Great try!
Southwold came back at us strongly and twice lost vital lineouts on five metres to Simon New. The second of these saw Finlay's clearing kick from his try-line find touch five metres from half way. But Southwold were next to score with a lovely break through the middle to score at the posts; 17 - 12.
Southwold then went down to fourteen men for ten minutes resulting in a penalty on five metres. Tom Bailey was keen on making it a first half hat trick, took a quick tap and was penalised at the line - chance gone. Cantabs were not going to be denied for long, however. Some sloppy play in their 22, from Southwold, saw the ball ricochet back to hit the goal post. Alan Barker was first to react and somehow gathered the ball, avoided the post protector and in one move dived over for the bonus point try. No problem for Finlay; 24 - 12.
No further score at half time, when Jonnie Heaver took a breather to bring Ed Foster into the pack.
Again Southwold started the half the stronger and this time their kicking game was aided by the northeast wind. Tom Bailey made a lovely break down the right wing, scattering tacklers before him. But in the process, damaged his ankle, which required extensive treatment. Captain Tom eventually took his place in the scrum though! Drew Tilley was now on for Jack Hopkins who had also picked up an ankle knock.
Southwold kicked long to the right hand corner, but although the ball did not find touch we were under severe pressure with Charlie McConnell trying to run the ball back. We lost possession, their centre sold us a dummy and Wold scored in the corner; 24 - 17.
Finlay again hit touch at the 22 shortly after the restart, again Cantabs won the lineout and our backs combined beautifully to put Drew Tilley in at the posts with the best passing move of the match; 31 - 17.
At this point your correspondent handed over his recorder to our President, who, true to form, was not lost for words, I later found. Sean Cooper had another great run down the right half the length of the pitch, and although he was isolated, he set up the backs, Aaron span the ball wide to the left where we had a two man overlap. The man in possession was Finn Morrison, who was not going to pass up a scoring opportunity, and he dived over for try number six; 36 - 17.
Tom Bailey was substituted with a quarter of an hour left and Southwold then seemed to wake up and scored in the right hand corner; 36 - 22. The visitors sensing that they could get something out of the game, continued to pile on the pressure and went close, the ball going dead behind our goal. Cantabs were under constant pressure with both sides making errors. Southwold scored again with five minutes left but again failed to convert; 36 - 27. Then with just a minute left, managed a final consolation try, again unconverted.
Final score 36 - 32, six tries apiece and Finlay's kicking the difference which gave him man of the match.
Well, that is four wins out of the last five games, and Cantabs are up to sixth in the table, but with a poor points difference largely created by the 85 points conceded at Holt, who are our visitors next week. If that is not enough of an incentive for our lads, I don't know what is. Book your place for the pre-match lunch and watch us try to make amends.
1 BenTozer, 2 Tom Bailey (capt), 3 Tim Kirkconel, 4 Jonny Heaver, 5 Simon New, 6 Luke Townsend,
7 Finn Morrison, 8 Tom Stace, 9 Aaron Robinson,10 Alan Barker,11 James McCaskie,12 Finlay Laing,
13 Jack Hopkins,14 Sean Cooper,15 Charlie McConnell,16 Ed Foster,17 Dan Searle,18 Andrew Tilley.
Tries: Tom Bailey 2, Sean Cooper, Alan Barker, Drew Tilley, Finn Morrison
Conversions: Finlay Laing 3