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Cantabrigian fall to third straight defeat at West Norfolk

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Cantabrigian’s season, which had promised so much, continued to fall away on Saturday, with a disappointing 38-26 defeat at relegation-threatened West Norfolk.

And it had started so well for Cantabs, captained by Alan Barker with Danny Richard now bound for Australia. They scored first - something of a rarity this season - through a good backs move finished down the right by winger Rowan Haines.

Alan Barker captained Cantabs on Saturday. Picture: Keith Heppell
Alan Barker captained Cantabs on Saturday. Picture: Keith Heppell

But West Norfolk, who defeated Cantabs 24-26 in the reverse fixture on February 24, quickly responded, their fly half evading efforts to stop his jinking run.

A conversion left Wests 7-5 up after nine minutes, but Cantabs were dominant, with James Hayward kicking well with the wind, the scrum holding up and Elliot Baines and Rowan careering down the wings.

Rowan chased down what might have been a lost cause near the Wests try line, inducing hesitation from a Wests’ winger and reaching the ball first. Centre Francois Eve pounced on the loose ball to make it 7-12.

Before long it was 7-19. Elliot cut inside one man, switched back out, drew a defender and then passed to Thomas Barnes, who scored comfortably. Finlay converted neatly.

But Cantabs’ susceptibility to hard-running teams cost them dear.

Wests’ fly-half and outside centre were a regular threat and it was the former struck twice in the space of 10 minutes. The converted tries left the Wests 21-19 ahead at half-time.

And the home side continued their momentum in the second half, swiftly going ahead 28-19 after the restart as Cantabs struggled to get their tackles in.

Two further tries left Cantabs out of it at 38-19, although a late consolation came after Hayward beat three men and found Rowan out wide, who passed back for Eve to touch down. Finlay’s quick drop-kicked conversion took the score to 38-26.

Cantabs earned a bonus point and held on to fifth in the London 2 North East table, but promotion hopes that were spurred by eight wins before the new year have disappeared after three straight defeats.

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