The St Neots Cardinals started their 2016 - 2017 league campaign with a resounding win at home against Leighton Buzzard, with 9 different players registering tries.
The two teams appeared to be evenly matched in the opening exchanges with the big Leighton Buzzard pack causing the Cardinals forwards some problems at the scrum and breakdown area, but as the game progressed the mobility and fitness of the Cardinals squad was better than their oppositions and the difference was soon converted into points. A break by young winger Ollie Donald got the Cardinals up the LB 22 where he was caught by the full-back. He managed to get the ball to flanker Luke Marfleet who was quickly up in support and Marfleet passed the ball to fly-half Matt King who saw lock Steve Darrington on the charge and a simple pop pass put Darrington away and the big forward was not going to be stopped as he went through to score the first try of the day.
King also had a hand in the Cardinals second score with a chip over the LB defence on half-way, which the mobile back row of Matt Cartwright, Luke Marfleet and Phill Fernie were quick to win back. Quick ball from scrum-half Will Smith found King who saw space in mid-field and a long pass to centre Kyle Martin saw him accelerate though a gap in the LB defence, take on and beat the full back in a race for the line for a well deserved try.
Leighton Buzzard manage to get a score before half-time to make the score at the break a narrow 12 - 5 to the home team.
A well received team talk by coaches Steve Gibson and Rhod Howcroft highlighted to the players that the Cardinals were much quicker than the LB side and the players were urged to play to their strengths and get the ball away from the big LB forwards and out wide as quickly and as often as possible.
Cardinals brought on some fresh legs for the second period and at a breakdown on the LB 22, big lock-forward Andy Taylor picked up the ball from the base of a ruck and ran at the LB defence getting to within 10 meters from the goal-line. When tacked he managed to off-load the ball to King who ran around the maul and down the blindside to score in the corner.
With the wind at their backs and confidence high, the Cardinals started to use the ball and their back-line more often and after some more good work by the forwards, especially the tireless front row Hayward brothers Adam and Jack, the ball was won in the LB 22 and when spun wide through the backs, full-back Stuart Miller joined the back-line between the centres and received the ball at pace to cut through unchallenged to score.
The Cardinals then started to open up and score from all areas of the pitch. New centre Guy Podlubny was next to touch down running half the length of the pitch after selling his opposite number a wonderful dummy pass. Wing Clive Carrington was next to make a significant break which Cartwright finished off, then centre Aiden Jordan sliced through centre field and with only the full back to beat he unselfishly passed out wide to Ollie Donald to run in and score.
Leighton Buzzards heads were down after those 3 quick scores and from a resulting kick-off, Kieran Martin cleanly fielded the ball and passed to Cartwright who ran straight through the advancing LB forwards, easily side-stepped the covering winger, then the full-back and he ran in to score a fine individual effort. Not to be out done by the forwards, on the next Cardinals possession, centre Aiden Jordan ran at his opposite number while still inside his own half, dummy passed to his wing and cut inside the LB defenders and accelerated away to score another well deserved individual try.
Club Captain Nick Ashford created the final score, turning over and then bravely diving on a loose ball to set up the backs and fine handling saw the ball go out to Clive Carrington to get the 10th and final score of the day.
Matt King Kicked 6 of his 10 conversion attempts
Cardinals Skipper Phill Fernie said after the game "This was a good start to our League Campaign with very solid performances from all of the players involved. It was good to see some new faces in the squad and to see some of our younger players starting to find their place in senior rugby. We still have some wrinkles to iron out, but on the whole I was massively encouraged by our teamwork today."Team
Joel Atkins, Jack Hayward, Adam Hayward, Nick Ashford, Steve Darrington, Luke Marfleet, Matt Cartwright, Phillip Fernie, Will Smith, Matt King, Jack Webb, Kyle Martin, Guy Podlubny, Ollie Donald, Stuart MillerSubs
Andy Taylor, Josh Lofty, Keiran Martin, Clive Carrington, Aiden Jordan, Mick Cleary, Steve Gibson, Nigel Samm, Rachel CameronScores T:
Matt Cartwright (2), Kyle Martin (1), Matt King (1), Ollie Donald (1), Stuart Miller (1), Clive Carrington (1), Guy Podlubny (1), Aiden Jordan (1), Steve Darrington (1) C:
Matt King (6) The league: Directors League