What a great day for rugby, no wind and yielding pitch with spectators warmed by a roast beef lunch cooked by Mr & Mrs Railton and lubricated courtesy of Fullers. The opposition at Sedley Taylor Road were Ipswich YM, who had experienced three more defeats than Cantabs. Our squad had Jon Perks starting at prop for only the second time this season, there were two Searle brothers back in the team for the first time this season and
Dean James on the bench for his first outing since tearing a groin muscle in the pre-season. Alex Bentley was making his debut on the left wing having shown lots of promise playing for the 2nds. Ipswich YM had Matt Holden in their team; great to see him back.
All the initial pressure came from Cantabs playing towards the railway, our scrum was solid but three great kicks to the corners from Finlay Laing were wasted with poor lineout play. Then, in only their first meaningful attack, YM broke through some weak tackles to score at the posts; 0 - 7 after 12 minutes. Cantabs immediately responded, another penalty kick to the left hand corner was caught by Rich Ford, and Aaron Robinson switched play out to the right. The move faltered, but when we recycled the ball back to the left, Alex Bentley fought off two defenders and avoided touch somehow to score at the corner. Finlay's kick, apparently without his favourite green tee, was not close, but we were back in it at 5 - 7.
Cantabs spilled the restart kick, their flyhalf hoisted his next kick over our defence and YM were the more determined, gathered the ball and ran around our defence to score at the posts. Somehow, their man hooked an easy conversion wide, but we were chasing the game again at 5 - 12. YM then had another chance to go further ahead but missed another very kickable penalty. Cantabs play was sloppy, with passes timed badly or wildly; allowing YM to create opportunities for their backs.
JP Middleton had given way for Charlie Searle, while his brother, Dan, was rested for Dean James. Cantabs then finally got the ball out to James McCaskie, who beat the first defender on the outside and raced in from thirty metres to score in the corner. Finlay was passed his green tee, and hit a tremendous conversion from the right hand touchline. We were back on level terms at 12 apiece.
Just on the stroke of halftime, Deano offended Sir with a high tackle and would not resume until ten minutes into the second half. YM attacked from the outset and gained a scrum deep into our 22 on the right. Under immense pressure from our pack they scrambled the ball back to their No 8 who set up a score in the corner. Cantabs were behind again at 12 - 17. Cantabs came straight back, with great work from Finn Morrison to force his way through a couple of tackles and get his pass out wide to Rich Ford, who scored in the right hand corner.
Finlay produced yet another wonder conversion from way out wide to put us ahead for the first time at 19 - 17.
Cantabs were now attacking in numbers, but the last pass was one too many, gobbled up by their centre, on his own 22 line, he outpaced all of our defence to score. This time their man made no mistake with the kick; 19 - 24. Our passing was letting us down to many badly timed, or frantic passes at the tackle, or passes which were at feet, the basics were not getting done. YM had two more great chances to go ahead, one with a two man overlap under our posts, but their passing let them down this time.
Going into the last ten minutes, a penalty kick from Finlay found the touchline just inside the YM 22. Ford caught the throw, our rolling maul was formed before YM woke up and moved the ball forward at speed. The maul stalled five metres out, but Finn Morrison joined in and took control. He broke clear as the maul started to move forward again and scored at the posts. Finlay made no mistake, and Cantabs were ahead again at
We had two more chances to increase that lead, with two very kickable penalties, but even the green tee could not stop Finlay's hooked kicks. Somehow Cantabs weathered all attempts from a tiring YM pack and ran out winners.
Great to get a win at home, but on this performance we are far from the finished article. We move back up to the comparative safety of mid-table, and probably could do with a blank week after this nervous display. Deano finished the game with a broken finger to add to is woes this season. Tom Bailey is still way off getting back into the team following his broken ankle in game one, but Ollie Townsend and James Hayward look to be closer to getting back into contention.
Great debut for Alex Bentley, with has first try for the 1st XV, and for that reason I also make him man of the match.
1 Tim Kirkconel, 2 J-P Middleton, 3 Jon Perks, 4 Ed Foster, 5 Richard Ford, 6 Dan Searle, 7 Finn Morrison,
8 Tom Stace, 9 Aaron Robinson,10 Alan Barker (capt),11 Alexander Bentley,12 Sean Cooper,13 Ben Newman,
14 James McCaskie,15 Finlay Laing,16 Charles Searle,17 Dean James,18 Asbel Rodriguez Huergo.