Eighty minute Exiles heroes
Ipswich II 19-43 Cambridge Exiles

With injuries, availability for away matches and other commitments, the Exiles looked like needing Kyle with a damaged knee and Dick with a damaged age profile to play until some last minute arm twisting for Nick and James and a drive to Ipswich leaving at 1:30 for a 3pm kick off let them start and Kyle and Dick were hopefully only to be used in emergency. Physio Aleta was not happy that skipper Julian also intended to play a full game on a nasty dead leg from last week, but he went ahead – and a good show he made of it. Good weather and a superb pitch meant that the Exiles exciting backline should come into play.

Winning an early penalty within a minute for holding on, this looked to be promising however, conceding the same from the subsequent line out showed that the referee was determined to whistle any demeanour he spotted. This meant random whistles for and against both sides, not sympathetic to the level of play demonstrated.

Elie playing loose head for the first time after a very short coaching session struggled at the first scrum. Play went back and forth, then the Exiles spread the ball wide where Nathan kicked on and looked to be able to score, but the ball just ran dead. It was now clear that the Ipswich back line had no answer to the pace of the Exiles.

Despite the obvious tactical advantage of spreading the ball wide, the Exiles took the ball short and after several pick and goes with Brennan, Archie and particularly Cam once again, James C-B forced his way over for the first try, Max’s conversion going wide. 0-5

Now the wide play came into effect, Cesar, Mark, Euan, Max and Nathan all having chances out wide before Adam collected a superb Euan offload to score in the right hand corner. A great conversion from the touchline from Max raised the score to 0-12.

Next after a series of penalties against the Exiles for what appeared to be trying too hard to turnover rucks, Jules received a yellow card for a high tackle which was marginal to the assembled coaching staff and reserves on both sides. Ten minutes in the sin bin and a player down, so Ipswich scored a converted try from a pick and go 7-12.

Then a good run from Cesar after the first kick that Ipswich had made, a couple of quick phases and Mark went over wide left so half time arrived with the Exiles in the lead 7-17.

By half time the most pleasing observation was that the Exiles had not allowed a single line break, with no missed tackles and it was clear that Ipswich were going to give it to their big boys to keep punching. This they duly did and despite not allowing the defensive line to be punctured, the Exiles were driven metre by metre back into their own 22. At last a turnover came and Euan weaved the length of the pitch to score quite against the run of play, Max converting and the try bonus secured. 7-24

Despite the Exiles scrum now working very competitively in the front five of Elie, Archie, Brennan shoved by Jules and Cam plus the James/Nick/Yvan back row turning over regularly, the referee decided he didn’t want to see ruck competition and the Exiles made the excellent decision to put fewer players into ruck defence. The downside was that this meant Ipswich were able to continue to inch forward with narrow carries and eventually it gave them another score 14-24.

More of the same: 19-24, and the nerves should have started to affect the Exiles. But it didn’t. They pulled together collectively and as the Ipswich big boys tired from constant stern Cambridge defence, the Exiles finally won some penalties and slick hands from the line out put Max over in the corner, 19-29 and the ability to draw breath.

For the next ten minutes play was evenly distributed in the middle third until the Ipswich No 8’s patience was exhausted and he flew over the top of a ruck with a no arms clear out of James at scrum half as he picked up the ball. Yellow card for the remaining eight minutes.

James legs at last succumbed to cramp after an excellent performance, so Dick came on into the second row for the final three minutes Yvan moving to wing. That little extra energy revitalised the Exiles, and they went wide left where Cesar carried from 5m out when it needed to go back wide right but he scored anyway, Max converting 19-36

From the kick off the Exiles made good ground and once again got the ball wide left where a chip and chase from Player of the Match Euan, lead to a 50m run in for the final try which Max converted superbly from the touchline, the last kick of the game, leaving the final score 19-43.

What an effort from the starting 15: all but one played the full 80 minutes, not allowing a single line break against them and making good decisions on the pitch. It looks like this team is coming together at last!

Tries: James C-B, Adam, Mark, Euan x2, Max, Cesar

Conversions: Max  x4

Elie Hammou, Archie Davison, Brennan Logan, Julian Mannion (c), Cameron Prior, Yvan Bollet-Quivogne, Nicholas Crossley, James Campos-Brown, James Robinson, Mark Leckie, Nathan Cowley-Wilson, Euan Rees, Max Burton, Adam Griffiths, Cesar Belloso,

Replacements: Dick Wallin, Kyle Kotkin-Smith (Did not play)