On a gloriously sunny day, Cranfield made the short trip to Olney to face Northampton Heathens in the final of the tier 3 merit table play offs.
With a full, strong squad available, Cranfield went into the game knowing that the overhead conditions favoured their fast style of play. It was however the Heathens that started the game more brightly, with a pin point accurate kick off, secure possession from the resulting lineout and impressive ball retention. The Cranfield defence stood firm, eventually securing a turn over, from which outside centre Kieran broke the line before releasing Bernado, who sprinted 60m to dot down under the sticks.
The opening try set the tone for the 30 minutes of the game, with Cranfield running in further tries in a similar fashion. This included one from a quick tap and go from scrum half Oli, who despite being gently (or not so gently) teased about his inability to perform this skill in the week, quickly tapped catching the defence napping before offloading to the lightning fast Moses who finished off the score.
Despite the free scoring in the opening half an hour, Heathens refused to go away quietly, coming back strongly in the final 10 minutes of the first half, with more impressive ball retention and strong running ensuring the Cranfield boys knew the second half would be competitive.
Overall the second half was a balanced affair, the Cranfield backs ran in a few more tries, including a well taken cross field kick by Moses from the ever reliable boot of Nick. Heathens also found themselves on the score board, going over from a strong drive from a 5m lineout.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes, Heathens attacked deep into the Cranfield half, resulting in 2013 player of the season, Martin Chalkley, pulling off a fine last ditched tackle. Unfortunately, despite this fine piece of skill, Heathens recycled well and crashed over. With 6 minutes to play, a stirring team talk delivered by outgoing coach Martin provided the motivation for the Cranfield boys to finish the game, and season, on their terms, led to one big final effort, with the game ending with Moses dotting down again for his 5th try.
In total Cranfield scored 9 tries (Moses 5, Bernado 3, Nick 1) of which Nick converted 8, to give a final score of 61-10.
The celebrations began, with the true spirit of rugby upheld as both sides engaged in some after match games. Unfortunately for the Cranfield boys, the speed of the Cranfield backs was matched by the speed of Heathens drinking, with the university side finishing comfortably second in the bar games.
On behalf of Cranfield rugby I would like to congratulate the Heathens side for winning their respective league and getting to the final. Everyone involved in the game will agree that the final score line does not reflect the very hard fought contest that was played out. Thanks must also go to the large number of supporters from the University that made the journey to Olney to support their team.