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Cantabs on the up with a win against Thurston

Thurston had beaten Cantabs at their place, but having only won one fixture since, our visitors were rooted at the base of the division. For Cantabs again there were many changes; Finn Morrison had made other plans for what was planned to be a free week, Alan Barker contracted a bug, and Charlie McConnel had picked up an injury against West Norfolk. Further, Simon New and Sean Cooper were also not available. However we had plenty of willing bodies with neither our 2nds or 3rds able to get fixtures. We welcomed back Tim Kirkconel at loose head, Finlay Laing at full-back, and James McCaskie on the left wing. David Masters moved to 2nd row, and Luke Townsend to open side allowing Jack Hopkins to take his place at blindside. Ben Tozer and Dan Searle joined Sam Featherstone on the bench.

Cantabs kicked off towards the railway, won the ball back and set up our first attack. Dean spun the ball wide, James Hayward made the break, out to James McCaskie, who scored in the corner. Finlay hit a perfect conversion and it was 7 - 0 after just a minute. Luke Townsend was tackling like Finn Morrison, and Thurston were soon under pressure again with Cantabs in their faces.

The second try soon followed, Jos Crush and James combining well to set up a good position, and Elliot Baines found the gap to go under the posts for try number two. Then a good attack saw us awarded a penalty. James kicked into the corner, the lineout was won and Tom Bailey at the back of the maul, scored in the corner. The score moved onto 19 - 0.

Cantabs were then awarded a penalty ten metres out. Tom Bailey took a quick tap before Thurston could react and shoved on by Jonny Heaver, Tom grounded the ball over the try line for try number four and the bonus point with just 21 minutes gone. Finlay again converted to bring the score to 26 - 0.

Now, every team seems to have a 2nd row who makes a nuisance of himself, living on the edge of the rugby laws and generally working hard to upset his opposing forwards. We have Jonny Heaver, Thurston had the foul-mouthed No 4 who had already barged through the lineout to take out Deano, long after the ball had been passed out, and had engaged in a bout of hand bags with Jonny. He was clearly a 2nd row who could hand it out but couldn't take it and was going to be lucky to last the full eighty minutes.

Dean had to give way with a knee injury, Elliot Baines taking over at scrum-half, bringing Sam Featherstone into the backrow with Jack Hopkins moving to centre. Cantabs then went further ahead. James Hayward made the break from his own half jinking this way and that to open up space and James McCaskie finished off the move to make it 31 - 0. At that point Thurston finally put us under pressure and were camped on our line for a long period. Right at the end of the half, the Thurston No 4 was held up over the line and took exception, as usual, slapping one of our lads. The referee duly sent him to the bench for ten minutes and called time on the half.

The second half started with Thurston continuing to press. They gained a penalty deep in our 22, on the right, took a quick tap and scored; 31 - 7. Then what should have been James McCaskie's hat trick. Featherstone stole the ball just inside the Thurston half and James finished off a slick backs move by diving over in the left hand corner. But our trainee touch judge had raised his flag, and just as Finlay was about to kick the conversion, the referee was alerted by Thurston to the flag. A lineout followed on 5m with all our team apart from one in their own half! It later transpired that our man thought he had to raise his flag for a try. He was suitably honoured after the game! No real problem, except Thurston then ran in a second try whilst they were down to fourteen and were giving us plenty to think about at 31 - 12. Tozer came on for Nuggett (Ryan) up front and Dan Searle replaced Adam Hardy, who had taken a knock.

No 4 returned to the pitch, was tackled in his first piece of action, so kicked his tackler, James McCaskie, and at the next breakdown was withdrawn from the game by the Thurston coach. Thurston then scored their third try, breaking away on the right wing following a poor Cantabs lineout. This time the try was converted and that finally seemed to wake up Cantabs at 31 - 19.

Finlay Laing capped off a good game by looping around the defence to score in the right hand corner. He was unable to convert hi own try, but we were back in the driving seat at 36 - 19. The final score also went to Cantabs, Ben Tozer showed good hands in the move, James Hayward breezed past umpteen defenders, and two passes later Josh Crush finished it under the posts. Final score was 43 - 19.

With this win we jumped up the league three places to sixth and will be looking for a hat trick of wins against local rivals Ely at Sedley Taylor Road next week.

My man of the match was James Hayward, his partnership with Jos Crush over the last two weeks has been instrumental in bringing home ten points and when you add his flair and kicking game Cantabs look a much better side.

1 Tim Kirkconel, 2 Tom Bailey (capt), 3 Ryan Moclair, 4 David Masters, 5 Jonny Heaver, 6 Jack Hopkins,

7 Luke Townsend, 8 Adam Hardy, 9 Dean James,10 Jos Crush,11 James McCaskie,12 James Hayward,

13 Elliott Baines,14 Matt Jayasekara,15 Finlay Laing,16 Ben Tozer,17 Sam Featherstone,18 Dan Searle.


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