On another gorgeous early autumn afternoon Cranbrook still not at strength gave Beccs, beaten only once by Canterbury, a good test but were not able to retain the ball for long enough as the well organised visitors did do so and eventually made their pressure tell.
Like last week Cranbrook started slowly having little of the ball and being forced to defend. Again, an early try resulted but thereafter Cranbrook defended really well, sometimes close to their own line with perhaps a faster line speed to try and minimise the space for Beccehamian to play in.
After early difficulties in the scrum with Tom Humphries playing out of position at hooker, the pack settled down to produce a workmanlike performance which meant that there was no advantage able to be gained or conceded, the lineout also worked quite well with captain Hamish Gillanders prominent. It was however around the fringes that the visitors had the advantage with their No8 in particular being both adept at challenging for the ball and making ground with twisting runs. This meant that Beccs often were able to make ground through the phases with good ball retention and passing. Cranbrook possession did not tend to last as long, and they were turned over or penalised for holding on a number of times as support was not to hand. However, when the ball went wider Cranbrook looked dangerous and had their best moments in such situations with wings Anthony Andrews and Wilf Sellick prominent.
Cranbrook came into the game after the difficult opening 20 minutes, in particular when Fabian Rimmer executed a 50-22 kick putting the home team deep into Beccs 22. Although the lineout was won the drive was driven into touch but soon after as Cranbrook retained position a kickable penalty was awarded against Beccs, but the mishit strike missed. Back on the attack the visitors attempt to score was undone when a player ran into his own man, a double penalty accruing as there was backchat to the referee. In this phase of the game Rimmer was able to make some long clearances which eased the pressure and then gave glimpses of threatening Cranbrook back play, the halftime whistle blew with the score at 0-7.
At halftime Toby Freeman came on at 2nd row for Josh Parks as Cranbrook started well. Sellick made a good run, minutes later he again outpaced his man and looked sure to score until a fine tap tackle by a covering defender that had come from a long way across saved the day. However, Beccs scored next as Cranbrook were reduced to 14 and from a tap penalty an overlap occurred. Despite Cranbrook having some more nice phases it was Beccs who took the game away from Cranbrook as they engineered another overlap, then the flyhalf managed to slip through some tired tackling for their bonus point try.
Cranbrook were still looking to take the game to Beccs and after Rimmer managed to evade tacklers on a fine run, good second phase ball moved the ball right where returning lock Tom Hamplett joining the line showed enough pace to score comfortably, the conversion from Luca Rosenberg striking the post.
In the remainder of the game there was more good home back play and only once did Beccs threaten when a wing forward broke a tackle and looked certain to score. Selleck sprinted back to catch him and make a fine smother tackle saving the situation.
This was a promising performance by Cranbrook against a team used to winning. Bear Pearce was voted man of the match for his tenacious performance at blindside flanker. Next week there is an important away game against Thanet who are also yet to win.
The team was: 1 M Stockman, 2 T Humphreys, 3 D Lock, 4 J Parks, 5 T Hamphlett, 6 B Pearce, 7 H Gillanders, 8 J Yeomans, 9 K Bottle, 10 P Catt, 11 A Andrews, 12 F Rimmer, 13 O Chilvers, 14 W Sellick, 15 L Rosenberg.
Subs T Freeman for Parks H/T, J Lewis for Chilvers, J Forknall also used for Catt and Yeomans who both had to come back on in the last few minutes.
Match report by Philip Rimmer