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Cantabs find Thurston a hand full

We travelled to Thurston optimistically, following the win against Bury St Edmunds. Finn Morrison and Tom Stace was back in the side, and our backs were identical to the previous week. The front row had changed yet again, but Thurston had yet to win a game. There was an early scare when Jos Crush pulled a back muscle in the warm-up, but to our relief he did start the game.

Thurston chose to kick off down the slope with the breeze at their backs and soon made progress into our 22, but when the ball went loose Jos Crush kicked well up to half way. Cantabs then won a penalty and tried to take a quick tap which was halted by the Thurston blindside, who immediately returned to the touchline for 10 minutes. Finlay Laing hit the corner but our lineout was crooked, and a promising position was lost. Cantabs failed to take advantage of the extra man, however.

Our scrum was not yet making ground, and Thurston took advantage of the breeze to find touch inside our half. Already the home side's big forwards were making ground at every opportunity, and they went close in the left hand corner, but Cantabs defence held firm. Cantabs could not halt the next move; this time from a scrum inside our 22, the ball was shipped wide to the right and their winger scored in the corner; 5 - 0 after 15 minutes.

Time and again, Cantabs made progress, Finn Morrison was usually the initial man to break the first tackle. One run of 30 metres was memorable, but our support was too slow. Already Sir was penalising each side at the ruck, and this occurred far too regularly throughout the match, restricting forward phases to one or two only, far too often. Finn Morrison again made the break, won a penalty and Finlay found the right hand corner. Our lineout produced a catch and drive, but a Thurston hand forced the ball into touch. The next lineout to the back was crooked, and that chance had gone as well. It has to be said that from this point Thomas Barnes throwing was good, with a concentration on throws to Tom Stace at the front or Ed Foster in the middle.

However, time and again Cantabs threatened but never got to the try line, so the next score again went to Thurston. This time a kick to the corner did the damage. We gained possession but the move haled when the ball went forward. From the scrum, Thurston got their backs moving and suddenly had a four man overlap. Their man ignored this and scored to the left of the posts; 10 - 0 as half time approached.

Thurston then pressed again and their hooker forced his way into our 22, when the ball was recycled, Sean Cooper seized on a loose pass and broke clear from 15 metres out from his line. He ran the length of the field, and although two chasers were gaining, he managed to ground the ball between the posts. Finlay made no mistake adding the extra points; 10 - 7 at the break.

Cantabs had already lost Adam Hardy with a leg injury and Joe Croker was on as a replacement at blindside. Finlay's restart failed to clear the ten metre line, so we started the half with a scrum. By now our scrum was struggling to make an impact, and invariably Rowan Haines was having to scramble the ball out from a retreating pack. Now the Thurston hooker and second row (5) were breaking our line at every opportunity, we could not halt the home sides dominance in the loose. Their flyhalf was also starting to run at the Cantabs defence rather than kick or set up his backs - Thurston truly had their tails up encouraged by some very vocal home support. Joe Croker then came off with an injury and JP Middleton took over at prop, with Charlie Searle moving to blindside. Cantabs did get close in the left hand corner following a good run from Elliot Baines, supported by Thomas, but the final pass was adjudged forward, and again Thurston came clear.

From a Cantabs lineout on halfway, Ed was adjudged to have taken the ball inside the five metre line. Thurston tapped the free kick and their flyhalf made the break down the right. Finlay tackled him, but Thurston won a line out in the corner and from this scored close to the posts; 17 - 7. Alex Burson was now brought on for Drew Tilley. Again, Finn Morrison made the initial break, and the move was finished off in the left hand corner by Elliot Baines. Finlay's kick was wide but we were back in it at 17 - 12.

Thurston were not finished though, their hooker burst through three tackles, and their scrum half set up his fellow half back who made a clean break of 30 metres passed to his inside support, who scored under the posts; 24 - 12. The next score also went to the home side, a simple penalty for not rolling away, under the posts; 27 - 12.

However, the last score went to Cantabs. First a catch and drive almost got us to the line, then with Thurston expecting another forward thrust, Jos shipped the ball out to the right where Alex Burson scored in the corner; 27 - 17. Finlay tried to drop kick the conversion to save time, Jos had made his last pass however, and had to be helped from the field with a leg injury. Desperation moves followed in an attempt to get within seven points, and we even had Finlay trying to crash over from a tap penalty. All to no avail as Thurston celebrated a rare win against Cantabs. Final score 27 - 17.

My man of the match was Finn Morrison, for his fierce tackling and numerous crash ball runs.

Tries: Sean Cooper, Elliott Baines, Alex Burson

Conversion: Finlay Laing

1 Charles Searle, 2 Thomas Barnes, 3 Ryan Moclair, 4 Ed Foster, 5 Simon New, 6 Adam Hardy, 7 Finn Morrison,

8 Tom Stace, 9 Rowan Haines,10 Jos Crush,11 Andrew Tilley,12 Alan Barker (Capt),13 Sean Cooper,

14 Elliott Baines,15 Finlay Laing,16 J-P Middleton,17 Joe Croker,18 Alex Burson.

Our 2nd XV were held up to half time but were too much for St Nets 2 after the break running out winners at

38 to 7. A great start to their league season.

1 Jack Holland, 2 Danny James, 3 Tom Heaver, 4 Scott Jackson, 5 David Masters, 6 Dan Searle,

7 Luke Townsend, 8 Charlie Norrish, 9 Harry Vanner, 10 Ben Newman,11 Gus Harvey,12 Harri Beasley,

13 Adam Davies,14 James McCaskie,15 Toby Pym, 16 Danny James, 17 Ben Campbell,

18 Asbel Rodriguez Huergo,19 Istvan Szalai, 20 Harris Mitchell, 21 Imran Khan, 22 Guy Hopkins, 23 Phil Brooke.


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