Stowmarket converted try: Stowmarket 7 – Cambridge 0
Josh Grey try: Stownarket 7 – Cambridge 5
Stowmarket try: Stowmarket 12 – Cambridge 5
Josh Grey try (converted Josh Grey): Stowmarket 12 – Cambridge 12
Mike Brennan try (con. Josh): Stowmarket 12 – Cambridge 19
Josh Grey penalty: Stowmarket 12 – Cambridge 22
Louie Rawlings try (con. Josh): Stowmarket 12 – Cambridge 29
Louie Rawlings try: Stowmarket 12 – Cambridge 34
Ryan Headington try (con. Josh): Stowmarket 12 – Cambridge 41
There is one thing that Michael Payne’s jokes and Cambridge’s first half performance had in common; we didn’t laugh at either.
A cool Suffolk wind whipped across the fields, a biting chill attacked the extremities and the pitch could have easily played host to Dancing on Ice. Meanwhile I was quite enjoying my bacon roll in the club house, watching the highlights of the England game; the joys of being injured.
Cambridge started slowly and that was enough invitation Stowmarket needed, with a nice switch setting away their winger who scored in the corner.
The away side responded well and some good tactical kicking along with a little more intensity gave the backline a chance to attack from close range, from where Josh Gray stepped inside a drifting defence to register five points.
However a game which Cambridge could easily control again slipped out of their hands as some slack play handed Stowmarket the initiative again. The Cambridge defence was lacklustre with some last-ditch tackling keeping them within a score. But as half time approached a powerful burst and score from Stowmarket’s right winger stretched the deficit to seven, with Cambridge needing vast improvement if they wished to progress.
JP straight to the point; tackle lower, up your work rate and don’t embarrass yourself. JT not so; Roast Dinner, After Eights and Dry Port. Nevertheless Cambridge seemed to leave the half time team-talk strangely motivated and this was reflected in the added impetus of their second half performance. The forwards work rate did improve and the ball presented and options given to Hugh Pritchard were notably better. A period of sustained pressure led to Gray scoring his second of the match and this time adding the conversion to draw sides’ level.
From here on in Cambridge controlled the match. First, Mikey Brennan scored under the posts with a simple conversion added by Gray, before he struck the ball between the uprights again, this time contributing three points.
Two support lines from Louis Rawlings, the first being from a crisp backline move where Brennan was set away, resulted in two trys and one conversion. Then a strong run from Ryan Headington where he busted through multiple tackles, led to another seven points, and Cambridge now had a dominating lead.
Then, with Stowmarket trying to attack from their 22, Neil Smith stretched out a hand, skilfully bounced it off the ground before elegantly striding to the try line and touching down. Almost the whole of the country erupted with joy and Smith bathed in the glory he had long desired for. He was King. However, in the most unlikely of twists the moment of triumph was snatched away from the brave protagonist’s hands in a mere instant. The referee, with the eyes of a hawk, had spotted poor Smith’s sly bounce of the ball and in that moment he fell to his knees and the full-time whistle blew.
FT: Stowmarket 12-41 Cambridge.
Thanks to the one armed bandit, Callum Traynor, for the report and to John Knowles for the scoring record.
Despite the report of the coaches 'hair dryer ' at half time the more impressive feature was the players self analysis of what went wrong in the first half and their determination to get it right. That they did in fine style scoring 36 unanswered points!
Given the ravages of injuries and unavailabilities we were very thankful to the U17s who made themselves available and more importantly to their parents who drove them to Stowmarket. So our journey in the National Plate competition continues after Christmas, but first, after the Paul Turner session, comes the LV Cup.
JT and JP