Haverhill & District 7-87 Cambridge Exiles
“Blue Skies & Sunshine”
Before we get started, this was my debut for being manager (Joshua Brown) as Dick was isolating from Covid. Two things: Juan, this was the biggest score Cambridge got this season. Dose, I was going through possibly one of my top three worst hangovers. But now to the game…
It was clear skies and a mild breeze at Haverhill. After a massive win last week, the Exiles still wanted to keep everything going as a team and not lower their standards. From the get-go they came out wanting a win and showed this by using their short game with the ball and punching it up for the first half. With some loose defensive structure from Haverhill Jaco our new recruit, also another Saffa (like Stef isn’t enough) took a short hard line to get over and score on his debut, Max converting 7-0. The game had only been played for 10 minutes and Haverhill fans were already disagreeing with the referee.
Some strong tackles being made by our forward pack stopped Haverhill in their tracks, some interesting tackling by both South Africans as well. I like to call it – no arms, no card. Haverhill got some ball but stopped short from our D. Haverhill kicked the penalty for a lineout, but it was stolen like a thief in the night and wide ball from Cambridge this time saw Coops over the line from a 50-metre run, Max converting for 14-0.
The Haverhill restart fell short, giving us a scrum on the halfway. Backs’ ball and strong lines from Stef and Jaco gave forward momentum, and Naughty Nick sniped through but forgot he has little legs and got caught and tackled. Nick’s improving pass meant the ball got to Stef and a few runs from the backs saw us gain a few metres. Scrums were solid for both teams, with pressure every time.
The game swung back and forth, and a Cambridge lineout was turned over on their ten. With good reactions and line pressure from the backs, Haverhill knocked it on. Scrum down, pick and go from Captain America and he got over for what he calls a touchdown. Max now 3/3 so 21-0.
Some sloppy play from Cambridge saw Haverhill start to get their hands on the ball more. Stef with ‘encouraging’ words. But with the two centres’ strength in D, the Haverhill 10 had little option and showed the start of his crossfield kicking. An unlucky bounce and the Haverhill winger showing some speed and a firm right foot plant to bounce off. After this frustration Cambridge started giving away silly penalties and Haverhill kept coming with their short play saved by tackles from Alec, Bod, Sam, Julian and Jos. Haverhill pushed the ball wide with their 10 with some foot work and they went under the posts. With conversion this made it 21-7.
With the penalties not stopping for Cambridge we finally got the ball back from a steal in the lineout and a penalty to us! About time, Stef took stress off with a good kick to touch. With Haverhill all offside. A big run from Michael and support from the Frenchie (Elie), he goes over for a try, oooh la laa! Max kicked it over the sticks 28-7.
Next play Stef sidestepped the ball, with a spin move from Bod running down the line… Knocked it on, how silly, should’ve held onto it. Haverhill won some field position and their 10 loves a crossfield kick. Exiles started stealing lineouts for fun now, with ball to Jaco who’d been running strong. Stef was getting into their heads as normal. Bod stole another lineout, reckon working at Saracens has been helping him. Silly mistake from Haverhill they kicked to the Mighty Maxim and making tens of metres, with support by coops and Bod with a big line saw him under the sticks. Max converted 35-7.
Maxim took a hit and retired for safety. There followed the world’s largest slice from the Haverhill winger, and the ball went straight to the replacement César, and he went over the line from being on for 2 minutes. All praise César #rugbydaytoday. Max with his first miss 40-7. The Haverhill restart fell short again, so scrum down. Good strong run from Chabs with support from Bod. Getting 10 away from the line, Max with a hard line gets him over, but missed again so 45-7 at half time.
The second half got underway with Jos showing us how strong he is with a great run! Cambridge won a penalty and Stef’s kicking gained good metres. Off the lineout and quick ball from the backs saw The Venezuelan running like a machine, so over he went again, Max converting 52-7. Now the structure from Cambridge slowly began to fall away, but for once defence remained our strong point. We got a turnover, Nick trying to deadlift their player from the ruck, for not rolling. After the Haverhill scrum started slowly getting the edge on us, time to change the scrum.
With six new fresh legs nailing the scrum, a ball to Coops out wide, saw him running 70m down the line to score. Max kicks the conversion 59-7. Haverhill really looking tired, but they didn’t know Stan had new boots he got for Christmas! Big mistake to blink when he’s on the ball, and he charged down the middle gaining more than a few metres. Sadly, Young Alex wasn’t having the best of games, and Asbel came on for him. Chabs came off the back of a scrum down blind, then seeing quick ball from Nick and nice hands from the backs saw Max over for a try and conversion: 66-7.
Down in Haverhill’s half and they got a penalty from the maul. César running back to then volley the ball back into play. More running from Coops, and still getting away with the same step he’s done since he was 10, saw him in for a try and 73-7. Yes, Max made it again.
Archie came off for Jimbo. Cambridge kept coming and from runs from the forwards creating space, Stef calls the quick ball and it got to Max who went over… Again. And he also got the kick. Again. 80-7
César running strongly again, gave good ball to Stef who put in a lovely crossfield kick but I think some of the backs were admiring it rather than trying to catch it, with Stef shouting “you’ve only got one job”. Benjie came on for his first game in eight years, but unknowing the last play of the game was a scrum to Haverhill on their 5 and with a good scrum from Cadge and Banksie helping Cambridge turn it over, Jaco took the hard line to go over. Max made the kick 87-7.
Jogging back for the restart, the game got called short with 15 minutes still to go.
Tries: Jaco 2, Coops 3, Chabs, Elie, Bod, César 2, Max 3
Conversions: Max 11
Jos Herbert, Sam Heenan, Elie Hammou, Michael Robson, Julian Mannion, Archie Davison, Alex Chabala, Louis Bodrozic, Nick Apps, Stef Liebenberg, Maxim Gleeson, Jaco Enslin, Max Burton, Alex Howard, Sean Cooper
Replacements: Simon Banks, Stan Meadhurst, David Cadwalladr, César Belloso, Asbel Rodriguez, Benjie Beer