Cam lucky to escape the Eastleigh mud with the narrowest of wins.
The visit to Eastleigh was always going to be fraught with danger with the Hampshire side desperate to avoid relegation and having recorded some excellent results since the New Year while the black and ambers, while well aware of this giant banana skin, must have been subconciously eyeing their upcoming Regional Final on the 17th.
And things did not get off to the best of starts when the pitch was declared unplayable by the official when he discovered a pond in one of the 22's and seemed surprised that there was no evidence of attempts to drain the water before the game.
So the game was moved to what was clearly the home side's training pitch which had only a small amount of standing water but also very little grass which left the surface very muddy and greasy a situation which clearly suited the home side's strategy of pick and drive through the forwards.
Having said all of that we witnessed a ferocious,albeit error strewn 80 mins when the home side put their bodies on the line from minute one and fought until the final whistle and must be considered unlucky to have only collected a losing bonus point for their efforts.
The game started with Eastleigh kicking off and, despite Cam putting several phases, together careless play saw the ball turned over and with less than 5mins on the clock the home side took the lead when a good move from a 5m lineout saw their prop crash over .
In true Cam fashion the scores were soon level when, from the restart, the black and ambers soon won back possession and when they won a penalty the ball was played deep into the red zone and the resultant lineout drive saw The Warrior drive over for the equalising try with less than 10 mins played.
The next 10 mins saw Cam almost break through on several occasions but the final pass was invariably wayward and on 15 mins Eastleigh profited from yet another lost ball and although the initial break was held up just short they recycled and claimed a converted try to take the lead 12-5.
Although the conditions underfoot were so poor Cam continued to try to play their expansive game but poor execution and some very physical and aggressive defence meant that they were unable to get their side of the scoreboard ticking over again until around the half hour mark when eventually several passes stuck allowing winger Jamie Taylor to touch down in the corner and a fantastic conversion by HT kicking into a difficult crossfield breeze leveled the scores.
For the remainder of the half the pattern continued with Cam still trying to push the ball wide but unable to make the final pass count while Eastleigh threw everything at the visitors and their crafty hooker, who had an excellent game, managed to get away with what the official claimed was a deliberate knock on and also managed to disrupt several Cam attacks by cleverly 'impersonating a visiting player' to receive a pass - all strictly legal of course.
So the second period continued in much the same way with Eastleigh still fighting for everything and Cam still guilty of trying to force things but after about 10 mins Eastleigh edged in front when they converted yet another penalty but Cam were soon back on level terms when they turned over possession and won a penalty which HT converted.
While every Cam mistake was pounced upon by the home side eventually Cam took the lead for the first time in the game when good work by TommyA saw them held up just short but quick thinking by HT saw the #9 dot down in the corner for a 20-15 lead which was extended shortly when another successful penalty kick by HT stretched the lead to 23-15 with about 10mins remaining.
To their credit Eastleigh did not give up despite several of their players clearly suffering as a result of the huge effort they were putting in but when Cam again lost the ball in their own 22 the opportunity was taken and the margin reduced to a single point however despite a several valiant efforts the home side were unable to add to their score and when the final whistle was sounded they found themselves so close but yet so far from the victory they so desperately craved.
For Cam this was a game which will be quickly forgotten although it contained several important lessons which no doubt will have been picked up by the coaching staff as they prepare the squad for the Intermediate Cup Divisional Final at Charlton Park next Saturday.
Meantime the losers must pick themselves up straight away and carry the same spirit and fight shown today into their remaining games if they are to avoid relegation.
Meanwhile the 2s maintained their unbeaten League record with a comprehensive 39-12 win over Ironsides .
So next week the 1s are at Charlton Park in the Cup - details of ko etc will be announced next week
It’s our final Kids First Champion for the season! David ‘Flats’ Flatman and two special guests surprise Ellingham & Ringwood RFC.