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Cambridge Rugby Shield


Nov 15

CRUFC 62 - 15 Barnes

An absolute try-fest entertained the crowd at Volac Park as Cambridge scored ten to beat Barnes by 62-15.

In the first half an hour or so, the contest wasn’t as one sided as the final score line suggests it may have been.

Cambridge did get the first score on the board, and the first of their ten tries on the day through Mike Ayrton, who jinked past a couple of defenders on the left wing before touching down.

Barnes responded well though, and posed a few questions to the Cambridge defence. They got off the mark through a Tom O’Toole penalty, before Jack Franklin broke a tackle and crossed the whitewash to give them an early advantage at 5-8.

With the home crowd somewhat stunned into silence, Cambridge began to turn on the style and regained the advantage after an excellent mauling try from a lineout, which Ollie Walker finished off, and when Lawrence Hutchinson scored another just minutes later after a nice inside offload from James Stokes, the Volac Park faithful were back in good voice.

Barnes did reply again with a score from Ciaran Smyth, but Cambridge were looking ready to take control of the contest.

The catalyst that begun Cambridge’s supremacy for the remainder of the game was arguably the yellow card for Barnes’ James Greenwood. He was sin-binned just before the break, and by the time he returned to the pitch, the contest was all but over. In those ten minutes, Cambridge had scored four, converting three of them in a dazzling period of attacking rugby.

Cambridge continued to dominate and put three more tries on the board before the whistle, whilst also making sure that Barnes never looked like they would trouble the scorers in the second half.

A good performance from Cambridge, displaying all the flair in their rugby that has put them in such a strong position in the league this season.

But, maybe a tougher test next up than it seems on paper. It’s a long trip down to Launceston, and even though they are still winless this season, they have a new head coach and are showing signs of improvement, with a narrow loss to Bury St. Edmunds by 29-26 and a 19-19 draw against Southend the week before.

Cambridge: Tries: M. Ayrton, Walker, Hutchinson 2, Portsmouth 2, Stokes, J. Ayrton, Baxter, Furbank

Conversions: Stokes 2, Boshoff 4

Barnes: Tries: Franklin, Smyth

Conversions: O’Toole Pens: O’Toole

Report: Dan Wright

Nov 15

Old Elthamians 14 - 14 CRUFC

Cambridge played out a frustrating draw against Old Elthamians which saw them toppled from the top of the table. In the first ten minutes of the game, Cambridge displayed just why they came into the game as league leaders, with two excellent tries to give them a 0-14 lead.

The first was scored by Lawrence Hutchinson after a nice inside pass opened up the space for him to touch down.

The second, by Ben Adams, after the Cambridge pack turned over an OE’s scrum on their own five, the ball bobbled out and Adams reacted first to pick up and touch down virtually unopposed.

The next phase appeared to change the flow of the match. James Stokes seemed to finish off what was a fine Cambridge move across to the left wing, by sliding in to touch down in the corner, but, the action was deemed to be two movements and the try was disallowed.

Penalties started to creep into Cambridge’s game from here, and by halftime, the hosts had managed to get two penalties and six points on to the scoreboard without even getting into Cambridge’s 22. Halftime, 6-14.

The second half continued as the first had ended; a tight and scrappy affair. This was arguably due to the poor weather and the ball spent a lot of time in the air, and this played into the hosts hands as conditions were not suiting Cambridge’s usual attacking style of rugby.

Cambridge continued to concede penalties though, and Tom White added three points, but could have had six more (one hit the post and rebounded out, and the second went narrowly wide).

Cambridge were then reduced to 14 men for a high tackle and had a battle on their hands to escape with the victory.

OE’s were applying all the pressure now in an attempt to win the game. Cambridge’s defensive line was holding up well, especially being a man light, but the pressure did eventually pay off as they won a penalty inside the Cambridge five. The penalty was quickly taken and driven over the line, and the hosts touched down for a level game. Tom White missed the conversion and the final whistle blew at 14-14.

In the end, Cambridge will feel slightly relieved to come away from the game with the draw and two points, keeping themselves very much in the mix of what is evolving into a real battle at the top of the table.

A wake up call for Cambridge though, who will want to reassert their dominance in this league, and put this result to bed next week against Barnes.

Report: Dan Wright

Nov 15

CRUFC 38 - 3 Clifton

Cambridge maintained their status as league leaders after a dominant victory against Clifton by 38-3.

This was a highly anticipated clash between the two form sides in the league, and most inside Volac Park were expecting a closely fought contest, and with the wind howling and the rain pouring, everything seemed as if it may be playing into the visitor’s hands, thinking that the weather may interrupt Cambridge’s usual attacking brand of rugby.

In the first ten minutes Clifton did make their presence known with strong driving and rucking play through their forwards, as well as comfortably winning the first few scrums. Clifton drove Cambridge back into their own 22, before a penalty for offside gave them the first points of the game through fly-half Brad Barnes.

Rowland Winter made an early change in an attempt to sway the early flow of the contest, bringing Steve Hipwell in at number eight, and this immediately paid off as Cambridge turned over a Clifton scrum, an area they had definitely been looking to dominate.

During the course of the afternoon, Hipwell also went on to score two tries and was a constant menace to Clifton’s line, as they had to put at least two men on him every time he received the ball just to be able to take him down in the slippery conditions.

Clifton came into the game as the leading points scorers in the division, and this somewhat tells the story of the game; Cambridge’s defence was excellent. After Clifton’s first and only points, they were completely shut out of the game by a patient line of blood and sand defence. Tackles were hit and turnovers were regular, and this slowly squashed the visitors dwindling spirits.

Cambridge took their chances at the attacking end of the field also, as Clifton’s defence could not stand up to the pace and quick hands that the hosts back line demonstrated. Albert Portsmouth opened the scoring on his 100th appearance for the club as he latched on to a loose pass, kicked the ball on perfectly and touched down for the first try of the afternoon. Hipwell crossed for his first try shortly afterwards.

Lawrence Hutchinson got on the try-scorers list five minutes later to extend the lead, after man of the match Gareth Baxter stole the first of a few Clifton lineouts on the afternoon. This led to a penalty, which was quickly taken to catch the visitors off-guard and give Cambridge a 19-3 lead at the break.

Many still thought this was a lead that was required going into the second half, because Cambridge would now be playing into the wind, but the flow of the match did not change, and two more tries sealed the bonus point and what would be an excellent victory.

Clifton did pile on the pressure towards the final minutes, and Cambridge saw two men sin-binned as they tried to keep the visitors from crossing the line. Rather fittingly, Cambridge then scored what may well prove to be the try of the season. Deep inside his own 22, winger Mike Ayrton found space. He made it up to the halfway line before offloading to Steve Hipwell, who once again made quick yardage. 13 man Cambridge recycled the ball quickly to century-man Albert Portsmouth who fittingly scored his second with the last play of the game.

Cambridge have been excellent this season, but this is the first time it was possible to say that they had put in the complete performance. Cambridge are getting better and better, and it’s up to Rowland Winter now to keep a lid on the emotions which are sure to be running high amongst the squad and guard them against complacency, as they head for another tough away trip to Old Elthamians this Saturday.

Report: Dan Wright




Oct 15

CRUFC 32 - 19 Taunton

An outstanding team effort saw Cambridge beat the previously undefeated league leaders Taunton Titans 32-19.

Watching from the side-lines, it’s usually a fairly simple task to pick out a player or two that have made a real game changing difference, but following the whistle here, there wasn’t one player who couldn’t hold his head high.

Right through the backs, yards were being gained with excellent hands and phase play, and the forwards backed them up perfectly with dominant scrummaging all afternoon, and a work ethic that saw the visitors defence become overwhelmed.

Both the Ayrton brothers got on the scoreboard early on after good organisation following the breakdown. Stef Liebenberg captained well, and along with Gerhard Boshoff, marshalled the team vocally and ran the plays all afternoon. The rest of the backs supported them well and provided the breakthroughs, running good lines and with their sheer speed.

Harry Strong touched down in reply for Taunton to give them hope, but Cambridge never let them get a grip on the game, keeping their concentration and playing at a pace that the visitors just couldn’t cope with, and, just before the break, James Stokes showed his pace and agility with a superb solo try, which he ran in from inside his own half. Rowland Winter must have been delighted going in to give his halftime team talk with his side leading 17-5.

The hosts maintained their intensity after the break, and Steve Hipwell scored an early try after crashing through a couple of tackles to wrap-up the bonus try point for Cambridge.

A few minutes later, Stokes kicked over a penalty won from another superb Cambridge scrum, and the result seemed beyond doubt with the score at 25-5.

Tauntons’ Jack Claydon ran in an individual try of his own in reply, almost identical to that of Stokes’. But, they could not sustain any pressure on the hosts, and George Bretag-Norris replied almost immediately following a good lineout and maul.

A last minute try for Taunton was a mere consolation for them, as they could no longer rescue any bonus point. The whistle went following the conversion and Cambridge had achieved what they set out to do; claim all five points and send Taunton home with nothing, job done.

Cambridge now lie second in the league table, still trailing Taunton, but only on point’s difference.

Becoming over-excited and complacently expecting victories would be easy in this situation following such a fine display and seeing the team sitting near the top of the table. But, it’s the hard work they have been putting in that is paying off. But, there is still more to come, and one lacklustre display will spoil the momentum, so focus remains the key word.

Cambridge now face a tough away trip to Worthing this weekend which will test them once again. But right now, the future is bright, the future is blood and sand.

Report: Dan Wright

Sep 15

CRUFC 44 - 20 Chinnor

Cambridge started their season at Volac Park with what turned out to be a comfortable 44-20 win over Chinnor.

After two tricky away games to open up their campaign (an opening victory against Dorking, and a defeat to Bishop’s Stortford last week), Cambridge will be pleased to get back to winning ways in their attempt to make Volac Park a fortress this season.

Chinnor started the game with clear ambitions of their own, winning a penalty after turning a Cambridge scrum on the hosts 22. Jonathan Hopkin kicked over to give the visitors an early lead.

Cambridge managed to hit straight back however, after the first of Boshoff’s clever kicks on the afternoon paid off. Cambridge’s number ten lofted the ball out to winger Lawrence Hutchinson, who broke the first tackle and offloaded to Brett Daynes who managed to just get over the line to put their first score on the board.

A noticeable weakness of Cambridge last season was switching off and losing focus from kick-offs and restarts, and it seemed this may plague them again as Chinnor replied immediately and with ease, as Jake Olley ran in virtually unopposed, which Hopkin converted to make it 7-10 to the visitors.

The next fifteen minutes were quite scrappy as both sides were battling to gain control and keep possession. The breakthrough again came courtesy of Boshoff’s creative boot. He chipped over Chinnor’s line, and Albert Portsmouth managed to kick it on again not once but twice, before a kind bounce popped the ball up into his hands and he touched over. Boshoff converted to make it 14-10.

The Cambridge forwards then decided to stamp their authority on the game. Firstly, a lineout and maul from which Ean Griffiths scored from.

Two minutes later following some good phase play, Cambridge won a penalty on the five following an offside call against Chinnor. Cambridge showed just how much their scrum has improved from last season as they calmly drove the visitors over their own line for Steve Hipwell to touch down at number eight, which also claimed the bonus try point. The halftime whistle went with Cambridge dominating on the pitch and on the scoreboard at 26-10.

Chinnor were spirited following the break though, and although Cambridge defended well to hold them off for a time, a moment of brilliance got the visitors back in contention. Chinnor’s Jack Adams ran across the gain line, drawing defenders in before a reverse pop pass to Olley cut through the defence, he then beat two Cambridge defenders to score what was probably the try of the game.

Chinnor followed this up with further attacking intent and won themselves a penalty, which was kicked through the posts to bring them back within six points. Cambridge had looked comfortable before the break, but now the faces seemed rather shell-shocked.

Rowland Winter made the changes and Cambridge regrouped. Jack Green, Simon Johnson and Mike Gillick were introduced, and this seemed to spark the hosts back into life. In the last twenty minutes, Cambridge displayed what they are capable of when playing close to top gear.

Chinnor could not cope defensively when Cambridge put the burners on, giving away countless penalties. Albert Portsmouth scored his second of the game and James Stokes got in on the act both with the boot, and with a nice run over the line for a try of his own before the final whistle blew.

Cambridge need to find the formula that enables them to play rugby like this from the off. When the forwards are winning their battles, and the ball is flowing through the backs they are almost impossible to contain. They will need to bottle this form and take it with them on the long trip to Redruth in their next fixture. Redruth sit second in the table after three wins and 14 points from their opening three games.

Report: Dan Wright

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