Cantabs still improving, as Diss discover

Our best position in league history was the third place finish in 2016/7 in London 2 NE. That season Diss won the title and were promoted to London 1. Our last match against them, in March 2017, saw Cantabs soundly beaten by 64 points to 5. Now here we were again, with a much changed side from last week, and a completely new back row. Finn Morrison, Dean James and Tom Stace were unavailable and captain Danny Richards was still nursing a pulled hamstring. So into the squad came Dan Searle, who retired two years ago, to reclaim that old No 7 shirt, and at blindside Simon New, with Rich Ford back at No 8.


This time our backs were going to have to perform, and perform they did right from the start. Finlay Laing returned the drop-out from Diss with interest, and when the home side spilled the ball, he found the right hand corner with his next kick. Rich Ford soared for the lineout, the maul formed, but the opposition defence held firm, so Ollie spun the ball out to the left, three passes later, Finlay was on hand to run round the cover defence and scored 20m in to the left of the posts. He converted his try to make it 0 - 7, after just three minutes play for a dream start for Cantabs.


Tom Bailey caught the restart kick, made forty metres and held on long enough for support to arrive, the recycled ball was chipped over the advancing defence by Jos Crush, who caught his own kick and kicked again to the right hand wing, where Elliott Baines gathered the bouncing ball and scored in the corner.. This time Finlay could not master the breeze and the angle, but just five minutes into the game it was 0 -12.


Not long after, Finlay's penalty kick found us back in the opposition 22, we secured possession and suddenly Ed Foster had burst through the defence and managed to get a couple of metres from the line; he found Simon New in support and Simon made no mistake, diving over amidst the bodies for try number three. Finlay converted this one, using the breeze to good effect; 0 - 19 with less than a quarter of the game gone.


Diss, started to play, and everything was instrumented by their scrum half, an extended period of play inside our 22, ultimately saw their second row blast over under the posts to bring the score back to 7 -19.


Ed Foster had another great run down the left, before being shepherded into touch. However Diss escaped without further score being added and again their No 9 was calling the tune for them. Ed then had to leave the game with a damaged knee, Chairman Lawrence Jones taking over. Cantabs support play and close passing in the forwards, was causing Diss lots of problems; our tackling was consistently strong and Ollie was able to bring the backs into play time and time again. Joss was then chopped down after he chipped the defence, and for his sins their tight head took a 10 minute breather. From the penalty, Finn kicked us into the right hand corner, Ford won the lineout and Ollie moved the ball out to Jos who scored to the right of the posts. Finlay made the extra two and we were away at 7 - 26. There was still time for another try, and this time Francois took the honours. Tom Bailey again caught the restart kick made 35 metres, held on for support. He recycled the ball, and Jos found Francois in acres of space. He outpaced the defence to score in the left hand corner. Score at half time was 7 -31.


Isaia replaced Ben Tozer after five minutes into the second half, for his first league start of the season. But Ben himself was soon back on when Dan Searle suffered a knock to the head. Cantabs were soon increasing their lead, and this time it was centre Alan Barker who was the beneficiary from some great forward play; 7 - 36 and Glen called on his last sub - Jack Caldwell at scrum half replacing Ollie. Our first scrum for Isaia, saw Diss shoved back and Jos took advantage to thread a grubber kick out towards the right hand corner, Elliott outpaced two defenders and dived on the ball before it could go dead; try number seven bringing the score up to 7 - 41.


Next try started with another great scrum followed by some lovely hands and interplay from the pack, finally releasing Francois, to score under the posts; 7 - 48 with the conversion. Cantabs were now dominant and before too long Jos had kicked wide to the right giving Elliott his hat trick; 7 - 53.


Diss however were next to score with their prop scoring in the corner, and a lovely conversion followed from the young Diss flyhalf, to make the score 14 - 53 with ten minutes to go. Cantabs still had time for one more try, created by a lovely run down the left from Alan, who was tackled 15 metres out, but able to pop the ball up to a supporting Finlay who ran in to the posts, converted his own try and brought up the sixty points.


Diss for the last five minutes finally released their big guys who pummelled away at the Cantabs defence until finally our line was breached and their second row rounded off the game at 14 - 60. That was time. My man of the match for this one has to go to a back for once, and although he only scored the one try, Jos Crush is my choice for a great display of kicking to create so much for his fellow backs.


Well, Cantabs are really finding some form and this win puts us into the top half of the table. Next week South Woodham Ferrers are the visitors and Cantabs will be looking to add to the win tally; don't miss it; we are playing some exciting 15 man rugby, with a great squad for Glen and Co to call on.


Tries: Elliott 3, Finlay 2, Francois 2, Simon, Jos, Alan. Conversions: Finlay 5.


1 Ben Tozer, 2 Tom Bailey (capt), 3 Edward Taylor, 4 Ed Foster, 5 Jonny Heaver, 6 Simon New, 7 Dan Searle,

8 Rich Ford, 9 Ollie Townsend, 10 Jos Crush, 11 Elliott Baines, 12 Alan Barker, 13 Francois Eve, 14 Ed Fairey,

15 Finlay Laing, 16 Isaia Barbieri, 17 Lawrence Jones, 18 Jack Caldwell.