Cambridge Exiles 59-12 Haverhill and District

After not being able to raise a side last week when many of our players were watching the Saints game away, the lure of a home Prem Cup game and an early kick off meant that they were just able to scrape the necessary fifteen together – in fact at one stage 19 were available but injuries and work reduced that to 16 named on the day, plus one who turned up on the off chance. Haverhill were in a similar position. By Saturday morning, their 15 had dropped to 14, so we started the game at 14 a side, and when the 15th man arrived, he was a replacement for a head injury.

Haverhill started strongly, and had pressure in the Exiles 22 for the first ten minutes or so, but stout defence held them out. A breakaway gave the Exiles backs, many playing in their first senior match, an opportunity and slick passing resulted in a score which Will D failed to convert from the touchline. 5-0.

I’m afraid that as I was playing, I don’t remember all the scorers, or all the details of the game, so this report will be a bit less detailed than normal!

There then followed a strong period of sustained Cambridge pressure. The Cambridge front row of Dick, Corey and Elie held their own against a heavyweight Haverhill pack, with Marco and James K pushing hard. In the loose, Harri, Oscar and Nathan all led the structured plays, with Clark distributing well in his first ever game at scrum half. Will D bossed the backs from first five eighth, with James CB and Will P thrusting in the centres and the Exiles game was too good for Haverhill.  After a few rucks, the ball was moved and the second try was scored. Will D converted brilliantly from the touchline. 12-0

Now the pattern became Haverhill taking it forward slowly with short passes tight to the rucks and strong Exiles defence. Once a turnover was secured, the Exiles ran hard yards, Corey, James K, Nathan and Oscar being notable then spread the ball and the strength and pace of the runners meant that they scored tries, which Will D duly converted. One try, scored by winger Patrick, came from a brilliant kick by Will D from his own half which stopped in the in goal area for rapid Patrick to dot down.

When Haverhill kept the ball they neared the Cambridge line but the Exiles D was very strong and they couldn’t score before half time despite competing strongly meaning the score was 26-0.

After half time the game opened up a little bit more, as Haverhill used the wind to kick downfield and gain territory. Ted, playing his first ever game as full back – normally back row, as were backs James CB and Patrick – cleared up admirably, ran and tackled strongly. Haverhill eventually scored their first try, converted off the post, but with strength coming from subs Adam, Kieran and Will W, the Exiles ran in five tries in the second half, Will D converting 4 of them, the miss from the touchline into the wind being virtually impossible. Towards the end, Haverhill spread the ball wide for almost the first time and scored in the corner.

So the final score was 59-12, a fair reflection of the game, but this was definitely a competitive match. The players retired to the hog roast and the bar and watched the firsts do well against Pirates until the superior strength and fitness of the professionals eventually told.

The coaching team were keen to say how delighted they were at everyone’s attitude, throughout preparation, the game and afterwards. A credit to the club. Special mention to Corey who I thought was absolutely brilliant with the younger and less talented (i.e. me!) guys.

Dick Wallin, Corey Lewis, Elie Hammou, Marco Valentini, James Kennedy, Harri Wilby, Oscar Coppins, Nathan Crow, Clark MacFarlane, Will Dorasamy, Patrick Adeleye, James Campos Bell, Will Paul, Ted Watts

Replacements: Adam Griffiths, Kieran Murnane, Will Watson

Tries: Will P 2, Will D, Patrick, Clark 2, Corey, James CB 2

Conversions: Will D 7