Cambridge Try scorers: Michael Brennan x3, Oli Benham
Cambridge penalties: Josh Gray
Cambridge Conversion: Josh Gray x4
On a cold wet windy afternoon Cambridge welcomed Blackheath to VOLAC Park for round 4 of the National Plate Competition. This is, as far as I know, the first time we have met Blackheath, other than at NCA Division 1 level. The interesting thing about these competitions is that you get to play teams outside of your normal area, and of course both teams know very little about each other’s game. Blackheath brought a vocal group of supporters and our usual parent support team was bolstered by coaches and parents from other M&Y teams staying on to watch some of the game in the biting cold. Our thanks to all.
Spike Dewing from CUDRRS took charge of proceedings in the middle, the first time the Colts have had the pleasure! He ran the game well and gained plaudits from both sets of coaches for his game management in conditions that led to numerous handling errors by both sides, our thanks to him.
Cambridge played with the wind during the first half and took an early lead through a Josh Gray penalty, the team heeding the coaches’ advice before the game to take the points if they were available.
Cambridge 3–0 Blackheath
Good defensive pressure by Cambridge then led to a handling error, which was pounced on by Michael Brennan who raced away to score, with Josh converting.
Cambridge 10–0 Blackheath
Cambridge continued to press, and a clever chip over the defence was well taken in the air by Oli Benham to score. Josh again converted.
Cambridge 17–0 Blackheath
The game was not all one way traffic and Blackheath pressed hard but were held out by good defence.
Half time: Cambridge 17–0 Blackheath
The second half saw Blackheath step up the pressure on the Cambridge line. However from another handling error, due to good defensive pressure, Michael Brennan grabbed the ball on the Cambridge 22 and raced away to beat the cover defence and score under the posts. Josh Gray converted.
Cambridge 24–0 Blackheath
Blackheath continued to exert pressure and Cambridge struggled to clear their lines into the wind. That pressure was ultimately rewarded by two good scores, both converted, one from the right hand touchline.
Cambridge 24–14 Blackheath
As Blackheath continued to press with Cambridge possibly tiring, good work by Conor Gracey and Callum Austen saw the ball driven to the halfway line. Michael Brennan received the ball and left 3 defenders in his wake as he cemented his hat-trick with a rampaging run. Josh converted with the last kick of the game.
Full time: Cambridge 31- 14 Blackheath
Our thanks to all the support on a bitingly cold day, to John Knowles for the score records and to Ruth and Liam Brennan for taking charge of the post-game food as well as looking after Michael’s obligations as a hat-trick scorer!
Considering this was the first game since before Christmas and, due to the weather, the fact that we hadn’t trained either, the performance was full of positives. The togetherness of the team during the game was tremendous, with handling errors due to the conditions it would have been easy to see heads drop and comments be made. However that didn’t happen, teammates covered hard to recover the ball and everyone contributed to the win.
The front 5, both starters and subs, played well, providing a solid platform at set piece and worked their socks off in the loose. Callum Austen playing out of position deserves a mention for buckling down in the second row, but actually the whole pack deserves that plaudit against a well drilled team. The back row kept us on the front foot for most of the game and snuffed out the opposition by pushing hard on the gain line in defence.
Not a day for running rugby but the backline tackled and covered well, taking the chances that were created and keeping the scoreboard ticking over which meant Blackheath had to chase the game.
Well done everyone!
JT and JP