Saffron Walden were the visitors, and for this local derby in London 2 CUDRRS appointed a team of three and an assessor. There were very frequent referrals to miked-up touch judges, that contributed to 30 minutes of over-time! What a remarkable game we saw, with the lead changing hands time and time again. The match ran for two hours, including the half time break and had it run a minute less, Cantabs would have won. Final score was 33 -35 with the visitors converting a penalty in the last move of the match when Cantabs attempted to run back a restart drop-out, ignoring the kick into touch that would have won us the game!
I find it nearly impossible to recall exactly what went on before this but I will try.....
Early pressure came from Cantabs who were attacking the Clubhouse end. Two times we were awarded penalties in the left hand corner and twice we managed to mess up the scrum when our front row was already dominant. The second of these spelt disaster for Dean James, playing openside for the injured Finn Morrison, who showed too much aggression and his leading arm drew the yellow card from Sir.
Cantabs continued to dominant the opening moves, with some great offloads from Tom Stace and Ed Foster. Then Perksy put Tom Bailey away and he forced his way through a couple of tacklers to score to the left of the posts. Alan Barker made the conversion; 7 - 0 to Cantabs after just ten minutes.
Walden now started to take advantage of their numerical advantage and opened up the play wide to the left. First Dan Searle then James Hayward stopped the Walden number eleven, Oliver Webber, with try saving tackles. Walden continued to press and their tight head prop, James Bovaird, crashed over for the try with Walden very much on top. This was converted, although it was claimed that Ollie townsend in his attempt to charge down the kick, actually tipped it over the bar! 7 - 7 after 15 minutes. It got worse, Walden shifted the ball to the left and Dan Searle was left with two men running at him, Webber scored under the posts; 7 - 14.
Dan Searle stopped a certain try when Walden found the left hand corner with a penalty and won the lineout, Then the oppposition nearly scoredagain but this was cancelled out for a double movement spotted by Sir. Cantabs really were on the rack at this stage. Tom Bailey, the human battering ram nearly got through following a lovely penalty kick to the corner by Hayward, Rich Ford winning the lineout to set up the forwards. Generally though Cantabs were trying to throw the ball about, when really they needed to keep it tight. Pass after pass was not finding the man, and possession moved back to Walden.
Then Perksy's pop pass was intercepted by the speedy Webber, who ran in from the half way line; 7 - 21. Dean was now back on but Cantabs had a mountain to climb. Cantabs were now back in the game and with a dominant scrum and Rich ford plucking everything out of the air in the lineout, James Hayward knew what to do. Cantabs went close twice in the left hand corner, but handling let us down again. Cabtans continued to press and finally the score came, a kick to the same corner, Cantabs awarded a penalty, and chose the scrum option. Walden were up, the penalty was coming but it was not required. Instaed of the expected push, Ollie passed out to Rowan on ythe blindside and he scored in the corner. Alan Barker made the conversion with a lovely kick from the touchline; 14 - 21 and game on. Half time
Cantabs restarted and James Hayward was kicking to the corners at every opportunity. Now the Cantabs scrum was dominant and Walden were defending desperately. Again we were losing the ball in contact or dropping passes, but the tide had turned and the men in green were under pressure. Finally the pressure told and at a five metre scrum, a couple of Walden forwards stood up, Sir had seen enough and awarded a penalty try; 21 - 21. From the restart we were penalised for not releasing and Walden kicked the penalty; 21 - 24. Then the Walden number eleven, their danger man in my view, was penalised for a high tackle on Noah Poulson and took a ten minute break.
Cantabs won a scrum just inside the Walden 22, Perksy took a break, and was replaced by Ben Tozer, and still Cantabs were able to dominate in the scrum. Tom Bailey appeared to score, again on the left but the try was cancelled for a forward pass. From the restart a Walden centre broke clear and then kicked ahead deep into our half. We gathered tried to run the ball back, but were penalised for crossing right under our own posts; 21-27, against the run of play. Again silly mistakes were costing us.
Again James Hayward kicked us into the corner, a crooked throw gave Walden the scrum, and for a while Cantabs were kept at bay. But Walden gave away a penalty and James kicked to the right, Ford took the ball at the lineout, the mall pushed Walden back into the dead ball area and Tom Bailey made the score which was converted, Cantabs ahead at 28 - 27. Scrums were now contested as Walden had a prop yellow carded and had to then shed another player. Walden were straight back in the lead from the restart, we lost the ball, missed a tackle and their outside centre scored in the corner. No conversion this time, but Cantabs were back in arrears at 28 - 32.
Cantabs were awarded a scrum right under the posts, again uncontested, somehow Walden kept us out, but finally we were penalised and Walden kicked clear. Rich Ford was off for a damaged eye, and James Hayward limped off with a damaged ankle. Cantabs still pressed with a couple of minutes to go, but succeeded in messing up each time. Then from a kick to the corner, we won the lineout with Ed, mauled the ball to the line and Dean James scored; 33 - 32 with the conversion fading passed the post. Walden then chose to revert to contested scrums and Perks came back on
At the drop out, Sir called last move, Cantabs tried to run the ball back, were caught not releasing, and Walden kicked the penalty. Final score 33 - 35. Game over.
Tom Bailey was our man of the match and we took two bonus points, but it should have been more. We can look forward to the return at Henham knowing we can compete at this level. Walden remain unbeaten.
1 Ben Tozer, 2 Tom Bailey (capt), 3 Jon Perks, 4 Ed Foster, 5 Tom Stace, 6 William Mason, 7 Dean James, 8 Rich Ford, 9 Ollie Townsend, 10 James Hayward, 11 Rowan Haines, 12 Alan Barker, 13 Andrew Tilley, 14 Dan Searle, 15 Noah Poulson, 16 Tim Kirkconel, 17 Simon New, 18 Laurence Jones.
Try scorers for Cantabs were Tom Bailey 2, Dean James, Rowan Haines and Penalty Try.
Alan Barker - 3 conversions