Cantabs made the short trip over to Volac Park off the back of a good run of form to face a Cambridge team which had been flying high in the league recently with some strong results. Cantabs line up featured a number of changes from last fortnight's victory against Saffron Walden. Tim started at Hooker, and with Drew missing at inside centre, Alex shifted in to pair up with Puds in the midfield. Tom Conder returned for his first game since the end of October and Janos was poised to be deployed from the bench.
Clear blue skies and a stiff breeze greeted both teams and it became swiftly obvious that Cambridge were prepared and ready with a strong side. Cantabs lost the toss and had to play the first half into the breeze which was to restrict our kicking game significantly. From the kick off Cambridge came at the Blue and White wall, confining them to their own half.
Cambridge came out with aggression at the breakdown and the Cantabs pack where struggling to deal with their tackling, making clean ball from Guns a hard task and Cantabs became isolated on a couple of occasions allowing Cambridge to put boot to ball and play much of the half deep in Cantabs territory.
Whilst Cambridge had the edge in the breakdown, the Cantabs scrum remained secure and it became obvious that our backs had the edge creatively. The decision to play the ball wide from deep within our half almost paid off but a loose pass saw the ball fall into Cambridge hands and gift them another 7 points; 12 - 0.
With the ball in hand Cantabs backs look dangerous and after some strong running from Joe of the back of the scrum Cantabs found themselves inside the Cambridge 22 for the first time in the game, simple slick hands shifted the ball to the left where Craig was on hand to dot the ball down, the conversion was missed in the breeze but Cantabs where on the board at 12 - 5.
A second Cantabs foray into the Cambridge half almost yielded points as some illegal rucking from the Blood and Sand back row gifted a penalty in front of the posts. Euan's kick rebounded off the upright and almost fell to Joe who reacted quickest and may well have made it over had he been able to control the ball, however the resulting Cambridge scrum held and they were able to relieve their lines.
With Cantabs pined back into their half once again, a series of rucks edged closer to the Cantabs try line before a final surge and a chink in the Cantab's armour allowed Cambridge to dot down, again the kick drifted wide and half time was called at 17 - 5.
On the turn around Cantabs where instructed to up the support to runners and make sure we were clearing out effectively and with the wind behind us looking after the ball should get us home. Dave
O'Neill came on for Laurence
Indeed the wind became useful as a penalty kick into the corner gave us a lineout which was well claimed and the forwards trundled on towards the Cambridge line, subsequent rucking inched us closer before Dave was able to dot down the ball; 17 - 12.
Cambridge had now been reduced to 1 up rugby taking on Cantabs around the fringes of rucks and a series of strong carries by their forwards brought them some welcome relief. Their number 8 had been carrying strongly all game and as the Cantabs line grew closer he was able to power over despite the attentions of several Blue and White tacklers. The conversion went wide but again Cantabs where 2 scores behind at 22 - 12.
Janos took to the field in place of Tim who had taken a heavy knock in the build up to the try, and Chris came on for Craig
As Cambridge looked to attack again. This time they spread the ball wide where a well read pass was picked off by Joe who used Fin in support to score a try under the posts. The conversion made it
22 - 17 and the game was set for a tight finish.
Laurence returned to the field in the second row for Tom and Cantabs continued to press but strong tackling and disruption work across the Cambridge line made progress difficult and try as they might Cantabs could not make the line again. Turnover ball allowed Cambridge to clear the ball on the last phase of play to leave the final score 22 - 17. The losing bonus point claimed but disappointment for Cantabs who hopefully face league leaders Bury at home in a rearranged fixture next weekend.
MOTM Euan had a good game in difficult conditions, putting in solid hits and distributing well but this weeks MOTM goes to Joe for excellent work all over the park, solid carrying and a great interception.
DOTD Alex for that pass.
Cantabs (17)Tries: Rands, Wilson, O'Neill
Tries: (4) Conversions: (1)