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Cambridge Rugby Shield


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

Sep 15

Bishops Stortford 18 - 10 CRUFC

Cambridge lost their first game of the season 18-10, after a stuttering performance against a solid Bishop’s Stortford side.

They would have been travelling on the short coach journey home feeling disappointed, after failing to leave with any points after putting themselves into a winning position early on.

The game started promisingly as James Ayrton split the home side’s defence, running a good line, and he crossed the whitewash for the opening score.

Just before the half-hour mark, Brother Mike touched down a try of his own, showing a good turn of speed and giving Cambridge a 10-0 lead.

To their credit, Stortford realised that the contest could soon be over, and they fought back well, keeping possession for multiple phases inside the Cambridge 22. Although the away side stood firm for a spell, the pressure soon told, as Gerhard Boshoff slapped down a pass that was heading out to Stortford winger Jimmy Rea when it looked certain he would score.

The referee saw it the same way, and awarded the penalty try before showing the Cambridge number ten a yellow card for the incident.

From this point in the game, Cambridge seemed to lose their cool. In the build up to halftime, whilst Cambridge were down to 14, Stortford converted two cheaply conceded penalties which saw them take a 13-10 lead at the break.

After the break, nothing seemed to go to plan for Rowland Winter’s side. The movement was still good in the backline, but passes were being fired in at the ankles, and fumbles were causing turnovers the home side were glad to accept.

The kicking mimicked the passing; wild and out of control. Following penalties, possession was squandered back to the opposition four times as James Stokes failed to find touch from the boot, costing Cambridge yardage and possession every time, and from here they just couldn’t get themselves back into the game as heads dropped heading towards the final whistle.

It felt as if they were trying too hard, and it was just one of those days. Cambridge will know that if they want to consistently beat established sides in this league like Bishop’s Stortford, they simply cannot afford these sorts of mistakes littering their offence.

There is definitely no need for panic, so long as Cambridge return to displaying their usual form through the hands and with the boot, they will come away from these tricky games with victories more often than not. We’ll mark this one as a bad day at the office, and hope they are few and far between this season.

Rowland Winter definitely has some work to do with the squad in the build up to their first competitive game at Volac Park this season on Saturday against Chinnor. It will be interesting to see if any changes are made against a side who are searching for their first win of the season after opening it with two defeats.


Reporter: Dan Wright