by Josh Anderson
on Thursday 19th of January we played a strong Canford side. Canford travelled down from Dorset for a 2:30 kick off, stopping on the way for a look around Sandy Park – home of Exeter Chiefs Rugby.
The game started very evenly, with both sides showing a clear desire to win. Within the first 5 minutes Canford were awarded a penalty in front of our posts. As a result of this they kicked for goal, and went up 3-0. Canford’s number 10 used his big kick to keep us camped on our line, and once again we gave away a penalty, and Canford kicked for goal and scored again. However, we then began to gain some possession, and started to show the things we were capable of. We were awarded a penalty, and kicked to the corner about 10 metres from Canford’s line. We set up the lineout, and started to drive for their line. Canford collapsed our maul illegally, giving us a penalty advantage. A clever run from Cameron Bishop from the back of the collapsed maul, put Canford on red alert; he offloaded to Louis Rudin who passed to Kieran Brand, who gave the ball to Frank Holmes, who cleverly weaved his way through the Canford defence to score under the posts. Josh Anderson added the conversion to make the score 7-6 in our favour at half time. This try gave us an injection of energy and belief to begin the second half.
We started strongly, scoring a try through Frank Holmes again, in the first three minutes. This time the conversion faded to the left slightly. For the next 30 minutes we were stuck in our half in what felt like a prison which we couldn’t escape from, despite desperate turnovers of possession in our favour, and mistakes from Canford. We defended solidly for a good ten minutes, before we gave away the first points of the second half, when Canford’s kicker skilfully dropped a goal to score 3 points making the score 12-9, with 20 minutes left. From this point onwards, Canford’s possession statistics went through the roof.
We knew that if we let in one try that would be it for us. Everyone was throwing in huge tackles to prevent Canford from crossing our line. With about 10 minutes left, Canford’s number 8 broke through our defence and was soaring for our line. I can remember thinking that it was all over, and I just froze in despair, but, in the corner of my eye I saw Sam Gapp chasing the number 8 all the way to the line where Sam held the ball up from touching the ground for a try. Our whole team ran over to Sam and congratulated him!
We knew now that for the last five minutes we had to put every last effort into defending our line. The final whistle sounded, and I could not believe that we had managed to hold out. The final score remained 12-9. We were all delighted to win what was probably one of the hardest games any one of us had ever played. Thank you to all our coaches and all our supporters who kept our heads up all through the game!
We now go on to play St Paul’s from Barnes, London in the quarter final, at home once again.