Saffron Walden and Cantabrigian rugby clubs defy COVID to get in one more game

Saffron Walden were one of just a handful of rugby clubs to play before Christmas.

Saffron Walden were one of just a handful of rugby clubs to play before Christmas. - Credit: SAFFRON WALDEN RUGBY

Saffron Walden and Cantabrigian pulled out all the stops to ensure they got one last game before Christmas.

A lot of testing as well as plenty of cooperation between both clubs and the Cambridge University and District Rugby Referees Society meant the London Division Two North East game was one of only seven across the whole of the London leagues to go ahead.

Unfortunately, despite a close first-half, the visitors to Springate pulled clear after the break to record a 40-24 win, although Walden did snatch a four-try bonus point in the latter stages.

The home side went ahead after 10 minutes when Cantabs made a mistake and the ball went to ground.

Walden's captain Mark Kimberley, playing at centre, was first to it, fly hacking it on a couple of times and out pacing the Cantabs defence to score under the posts.

The visitors drew level nine minutes later as they earned a penalty from a scrum and went over from close range and from the restart, they received the ball and worked it wide, finding a gap on the left wing to score their second try.

Walden had the best of the next period and forced Cantabs into giving away a series of penalties.

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Eventually the referee ran out of patience and flashed a yellow carded to one of the visitors, which was compounded in another Walden attack by a second trip to the sin-bin, this one for a deliberate knock on.

Walden took full advantage of the two-man advantage and scored two tries.

The first was a close range effort by Beau Longeretti and then a great score by left wing debutant John Cannon gave them a 19-14 lead with just five minutes of the half remaining.

However with Cantabs restored to full strength they crucially scored on the stroke of half time turn round 21-19 to the good.

Despite Walden's young team trying their hardest they were struggling in the scrums and it seemed at times that they were simply trying too hard and therefore making some unforced errors.

And Cantabs showed their ruthless streak by taking control and adding three more tries.

But with 10 minutes to go, and despite the game being out of reach at 40-19, Walden did not let their heads drop and they finally scored their fourth and bonus-point try, Cannon going over for his second score of the afternoon.

They tried in vain to score another but the final whistle blew before they could. However, the bonus point was fully deserved for their efforts.

A spokesman for the club said: "The large crowd applauded both teams off the field as praise for the efforts put in by all those on and off the field to get this game played.

"We should take great pride doing all the right things on and off the field to make sure everyone stayed safe whilst enjoying the game they love."

The result leaves them sixth in the table, one place and eight points behind their visitors.

The next game comes on January 8 when they go to third-placed Stowmarket.