Another disappointing afternoon at Volac Park for the blood and sand as they lost by 40-43 against struggling Blaydon.
Another game that slipped through the fingers of Cambridge after they dominated large parts of territory and possession, but again couldn’t see the contest out.
Blaydon are fighting for their National One lives, and although they displayed tremendous determination and desire to stay in the battle, Cambridge should have put the result beyond them.
The positive for the home side of course, is that they did manage to guarantee their own position in National One for next season after taking two bonus points from the game. So, in that respect it’s season objectives achieved for Ross Stewarts’ team.
Cambridge started the game full of energy and imagination, recycling the ball quickly and putting the visiting defence under tremendous pressure from the off.
Dan Lewis opened the scoring with a superb solo effort, chipping the ball over his marker before gathering the loose ball on the bounce and touching down, before converting his own score.
The scrum was one area where the visitors did have the better of it, and they levelled up the scores after a strong scrum opened the space to score their opener.
Ean Griffiths muscled his way over the try line next, as Cambridge once again camped themselves inside the Blaydon half until the pressure paid off.
Cambridge were in control and again pressuring the Blaydon defence, but, not for the first time this season, they were the masters of their own demise. A penalty for not releasing was knocked over the posts, before a telegraphed pass following the restart was intercepted and returned the distance.
Blaydon soon added another after large gaps opened in the home defence to give the visitors a 14-24 lead.
Cambridge responded just before and just after the break, as great work from Matt Hema on both occasions allowed Albert Portsmouth and then Mike Ayrton to restore the home side’s advantage.
The home side had regained full control of the contest at this stage, and Louis Rawlings got himself on the scoresheet next to extend the lead to 33-24.
The visitors responded with a score as they barged the ball over the line with all the effort of a side that hadn’t given up hope of saving their National One status.
The standout player of the day, Hema, then scored a deserved try of his own, and it seemed Cambridge would finally cling on to a home victory in a game that they had dominated, having lost many from winning positions this year.
But, battling Blaydon had other ideas, and even though they hadn’t produced anything of real quality in attack as Cambridge had, they were playing with passion and belief. Mike Stanway made a valiant but unsuccessful attempt to tackle the scorer who had found space in the corner, and the score stood at 40-36 going into the last five minutes.
Unfortunately, the home side had their defensive frailties exposed once again. Once more, nothing of real class or inspiration from Blaydon, just a battering ram that believed they could get the ball across the line again, and they did. Cambridge had no answer to slow ball through the forwards, straight up the middle.
Blaydon scored and won the game by 40-43 to keep alive their hopes of survival.
It’s fair to say that it’s a relief that Cambridge have already wrapped-up their spot in this league next season, as the last two fixtures this term are against Ampthill away in the penultimate fixture, who are third in the standings, and then Plymouth Albion who sit in second visit Volac Park on the last day of the season.
Another frustrating afternoon for the blood and sand, but the promise is there for next term. Cambridge can attack with the best in this league, but their defensive frailties are still evident. You have to believe that if they had a little more steel about them, they would have had at least another 20 points or so this season. An improvement and a higher league position next season should be the target.
With some work, the future is indeed bright. The future is Blood and Sand.
Report: Dan Wright