Cambridge put in a solid second-half display, to overcome a halftime deficit against Macclesfield and take the win by 26-20.
It was a much needed improvement from the first half, where Cambridge had been sloppy in their use of the ball, knocking-on, losing the majority of lineouts and giving away penalties which saw the visitors take a 5-10 lead into the break.
With Macclesfield sitting second bottom in the league, and two places below Cambridge before the start of the game, a second half turnaround was vital for morale, even at this early stage in the season.
Ross Stewart must have had a few words to say at halftime, maybe just trying to clear any negativity that may have arisen from the previous weeks’ heavy 72-14 defeat at Mosely.
Whatever was said, Cambridge returned to the pitch revitalised. The hosts picked up the tempo and cut out the mistakes, and gaps started to appear in the Macclesfield defence as a result.
Within 25 minutes, Cambridge had overturned the deficit, and had opened up a comfortable lead of their own, after tries from James Ayrton, Lawrence Hutchinson adding to his first half score, and man of the match Wade Schoeman touching down to complete Cambridge’s try-scoring for the afternoon.
Schoeman demonstrated his quick thinking, catching the visitors off-guard, taking an immediate tap penalty which presented him with a free run to the try line as the Macclesfield defence retreated.
Cambridge had shrugged off a poor first half display to grab the contest by the scruff of the neck, and found themselves cruising to a bonus point victory.
It will come as a disappointment then, that Cambridge allowed the visitors to get on the bus home with a losing bonus point to take with them, after Macclesfield battled back with two late tries, as Cambridge once again seemed to relax defensively.
This left the score at 26-20 at the final whistle, and all the Cambridge fans cheering around Volac Park once again, will be hoping the single point for Macclesfield won’t become a vital one towards the end of the season.
This win moves Cambridge up to ninth in the table on 17 points, below former head coach Rowland Winter’s Coventry on scored points difference only. Even though Macclesfield did take a point away with them, they remain 15th on ten points.
Two big challenges await Cambridge in their upcoming fixtures. An away trip to third-placed Blackheath awaits on Saturday, before table-toppers Hartpury College visit Volac Park the following week. Blackheath have been defeated only once this season, and that was away to Hartpury on the opening day of the season (they have won every game since).
Hartpury themselves are the only side in the division that still has a 100%-win record, and currently sit on 35 points, having won every game with a bonus point.
So a huge challenge for the blood and sand in these next two fixtures, and they will have to play no-mistake rugby if they are to add anything to their points tally for the season.
Report: Dan Wright