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Cambridge Rugby Shield

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30
Apr 16

CRUFC 52 - 14 Dorking

Cambridge were crowned National League 2 South champions after a convincing victory over Dorking by 52-14.

Celebration

An understandably nervy start saw Cambridge trail by 5-7 after the opening fifteen minutes, but, the league’s top try-scorer Albert Portsmouth soon settled them.

High tempo plays from the Cambridge forwards saw them progress into the Dorking 22. Stef Liebenberg recycled the ball quickly, and the ball made its way out to Portsmouth, who had a free run to the line.

Liebenberg added the next himself, after sniping over from the back of the ruck. From here, Dorking battled credibly for a side already relegated, but Cambridge were always in control of the contest and their own destiny.

Portsmouth and James Stokes started to put on an attacking display of how to run the right lines and to hit the ball at speed, and between them they broke the Dorking defensive line a number of times.

By halftime, the score was 31-14, and after Cambridge scored two quick tries after the break, the game and the championship was in the bag. With the score now 45-14, the game petered out somewhat, possibly as Cambridge just wanted to take time off the clock, with the title now agonisingly close. Plus, even with more possession now, the visitors just couldn’t break down the resolute Cambridge defence.

Fittingly though, Portsmouth scored the last try of the game, his third of the afternoon and his 31st and last of the season. As a mark of respect from his teammates, he was given the conversion also, and he struck that through the posts as well.

Championship celebrations began at the final whistle; Cambridge’s long but successful season had finished in style. Champagne flowed as the trophy was presented, in front of the crowd of over 1,000 at Volac Park.

There were tears of joy from departing Director of Rugby Rowland Winter, who has undoubtedly been a key factor in developing this side into title winners since his arrival. The players will be sorry to see him go, but they will have to put any feelings aside next season, as they will line-up against Rowland’s new team Coventry in National League One. Cambridge will hope that new Director of Rugby, Ross Stewart, can build on Rowland’s work, and give a good account of themselves in a tough division next season.

Also, after the to-and-fro that Cambridge have enjoyed this season with rivals Old Albanians, I’m sure the everyone at the club will be hoping they can win their promotion playoff game with Sedgley Park, so that the enthralling battle between the two clubs can recommence in National League One next season.

Well done to everyone at Cambridge Rugby Union Football Club, National League 2 South Champions 2015/16. The future is Blood and Sand.

 

Report: Dan Wright

The Scoring as it Happened

CRUFC 52 - 14 Dorking MIN SCORE
15 James Stokes - TRY 8 5 - 0
14 5 - 0 YC - James Catton 2
14 5 - 5 TRY - Benjamin Marfo 14
15 5 - 7 CON - Matthew Noble 10
13 Albert Portsmouth - TRY 19 10 - 7
9 Stef Liebenberg - TRY 26 15 - 7
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 27 17 - 7
12 James Ayrton - TRY 29 22 - 7
15 James Stokes - CON 30 24 - 7
13 Albert Portsmouth - TRY 36 29 - 7
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 37 31 - 7
H/T 31 - 14
9 Stef Liebenberg - TRY 41 36 - 14
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 42 38 - 14
40+4 31 - 12 TRY - Matthew Higgins 5
40+5 31 - 14 CON - Matthew Noble 10
6 Brett Daynes - TRY 52 43 - 14
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 53 45 - 14
8 Ben Adams - YC 55 45 - 14
13 Albert Portsmouth - TRY 80 50 - 14
13 Albert Portsmouth - CON 80+1 52 - 14
FINAL 52 - 14

 

16
Apr 16

CRUFC 36 - 15 Southend

Cambridge came through a real test against Southend Saxons at Volac Park by 36-15, and maintained their advantage at the top of the National League 2 South, with just two games left to play.

Cambridge started the brighter of the two teams, showing no signs of the nerves that usually come when championships are on the line.

The home side took the lead through Ben Adams after dominating possession early on. After some initial good defence from the visitors, he managed to bounce off a tackle which earned him the space to score. Gerhard Boshoff converted for a 7-0 advantage.

Southend resorted to making the contest physical in an attempt to keep themselves in the game, and it worked. Cambridge were coaxed into losing their discipline and started reacting to conflicts occurring all over the pitch, and this played into the visitor’s hands.

Attacking the home try line, they found themselves with an overlap out wide. Stef Liebenberg tried to intercept the pass, but was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on, and the penalty try was awarded.

James Stokes was cited soon after for a high tackle, and this lead to Southend making the most of the extra-man, taking the penalty quickly and scoring in space in the corner.

Albert Portsmouth did well to find a gap in the defence and exploit it, to score his 26th try of the season unopposed, and make the score 14-12 to the hosts at halftime.

Cambridge allowed themselves to be dragged back into a scrappy contest after the break, and after a few minutes, conceded a penalty which gave the visitors the lead once again.

Tempers were high and the pressure was firmly on, and that pressure only grew when Stokes received a yellow card. This time though, Southend could not make their numerical advantage count because the game was so stop-start, with countless penalties being given against both sides.

The turning point seemed to be when Southend second row Kris Chesney left the field. He had done nothing ‘exceptional’ during the game, but he was a constant thorn in Cambridge’s side, causing trouble, creating havoc and getting under the skin of the home side. His exit seemed to take away the intensity of the visitors, and Cambridge made them pay.

From this point, Cambridge scored four tries in twenty minutes to kill the game off comfortably in the end. James Ayrton, Lawrence Hutchinson and Stokes scored one each, before Portsmouth scored his 27th of the season to keep him at the top of the league’s scoring charts.

Meanwhile, Old Albanians beat Old Elthamians by 46-20 to keep the gap at the top to five points. Both sides now face tricky away trips in their penultimate fixtures. OA’s travel to Barnes, where Cambridge drew recently, and Cambridge themselves face Bury St. Edmunds in a crucial local derby.

Report: Dan Wright

The scoring as it happened:

CRUFC 36 - 15 Southend MIN SCORE
7 Ben Adams - TRY 4 5 - 0
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 5 7 - 0
9 Stef Liebenberg - YC 8 7 - 0
9 7 - 5 PENALTY TRY
9 7 - 7 CON - Bradley Burr 10
14 7 - 12 TRY - Thomas Ashton 13
13 Albert Portsmouth - TRY 22 12 - 12
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 23 14 - 12
H/T 14 - 12
42 14 - 15 PEN - Bradley Burr 10
15 James Stokes - YC 44 14 - 15
12 James Ayrton - TRY 57 19 - 15
20 Lawrence Hutchinson - TRY 65 24 - 15
72 24 - 15 YC - Reuban Haile 11
15 James Stokes - TRY 75 29 - 15
19 Jack Green - CON 76 31 - 15
13 Albert Portsmouth - TRY 78 36 - 15
FINAL 36 - 15

 

02
Apr 16

CRUFC 109 - 0 Launceston

Cambridge comfortably swept aside the challenge from Cornish All Blacks at Volac Park, winning 109-0.

It didn’t take long for the gulf in class between the top and bottom of National League 2 South to become evident. Cambridge opened up a huge lead, running in try after try, as Launceston couldn’t cope with the attacking speed of the league-leaders.

By halftime, Cambridge had run in twelve tries, and the score stood at 78-0. After the break, Launceston did show some resistance, and spent almost twenty minutes camped in the Cambridge 22. They didn’t manage to find a breakthrough, but it was a welcome relief for their defence. For a side who are already relegated this season, they displayed an excellent level of desire to keep fighting for the cause, even though another heavy loss was inevitable.

Cambridge did manage to break down the Launceston resistance once again, and by full-time had scored 17 tries, including five from Mike Ayrton, and a hat-trick each for Albert Portsmouth and James Stokes. Mention must also go to Jack Green, who scored on his return from a lengthy injury lay-off. Green’s return could be a real boost for the squad heading into the last few games of the season, and a return here was a perfect warm-up for the tougher tests ahead.

The home side wanted to rack-up as many points as possible, not to further punish Launceston, but because their points difference is extremely close with that of their nearest rivals, Old Albanians.

As a result of this fixture, Cambridge are still ahead of their title rivals by five points, but now have a points advantage over them as well. Cambridge’s aggregate tally now stands at plus 422 points for the season, and OA’s total is thirteen fewer at plus 409.

Four games left now this season to decide who earns the title of champions, and next up for Cambridge is a much trickier away trip to Redingensians Rams, who currently sit seventh in the table. In the reverse earlier this season, Cambridge won a high scoring contest by 38-23.

In the meantime, OA’s also face a tough trip away against Clifton. This weekend’s results could possibly decide the course of the title, but everything is still to play for.

Report: Dan Wright

Here's how the scoring happened:

Cambridge MIN SCORE  Launceston
15 James Stokes - TRY 1 5 - 0
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 1 7 - 0
13 Albert Portsmouth - TRY 3 12 - 0
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 4 14 - 0
10 Gerhard Boshoff - TRY 9 19 - 0
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 9 21 - 0
11 Mike Ayrton - TRY 13 26 - 0
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 14 28 - 0
11 Mike Ayrton - TRY 15 33 - 0
7 Louis Rawlings - TRY 21 38 - 0
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 22 40 - 0
13 Albert Portsmouth - TRY 24 45 - 0
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 25 47 - 0
11 Mike Ayrton - TRY 26 52 - 0
12 James Ayrton - TRY 29 57 - 0
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 29 59 - 0
11 Mike Ayrton - TRY 30 64 - 0
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 31 66 - 0
15 James Stokes - TRY 33 71 - 0
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 35 73 - 0
15 James Stokes - TRY 38 78 - 0
H/T 78 - 0
6 Brett Daynes - YC 45 78 - 0
5 Gareth Baxter - TRY 60 83 - 0
13 Albert Portsmouth - TRY 67 88 - 0
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 67 90 - 0
14 Lawrence Hutchinson - TRY 73 95 - 0
19 Jack Green - TRY 79 100 - 0
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 80 102 - 0
11 Mike Ayrton - TRY 80+2 107 - 0
10 Gerhard Boshoff - CON 80+3 109 - 0
FINAL 109 - 0

 

21
Mar 16

Barnes 36 - 36 CRUFC

Cambridge ended Saturday conceding only a point to their title rivals Old Albanians, after a back-and-forth 36-36 draw away against Barnes.

The hosts started the game the stronger of the two sides, and within the first few minutes scored the opening try of the game. The penalty try was awarded as the Cambridge defence dragged down a maul when a try looked to be imminent.

Cambridge responded strongly and scored a quick brace of their own. The first, through George Furbank after a good kick over the defensive line. The second, was an individual effort from James Stokes, as he shrugged off one defender, before handing-off the next, giving him the space to score in the corner.

Barnes hit back next with a well-worked try after some good offloads. The try was scored in a bizarre manner though, as the referee seemed to obstruct Cambridge’s Chris Leathem from making an attempt to tackle the scorer. The try would deservedly stand for the home side, but Leathem would receive the yellow card for ‘tackling’ the official.

Both sides seemed to be finding plenty of space to play in when in attack, and it’s fair to say both sides struggled defensively all afternoon. Both sides would score again in the half, with Albert Portsmouth importantly touching down for the visitors just before the whistle to make the score 21-17 at the break.

The game continued in the same vein in the second half, but Cambridge captain Stef Liebenberg was trying everything to take the game by the scruff of the neck and inspire his team to victory once again. In the first instance, he dummied the pass and spiked at the back of a good lineout and maul to give himself the space to dive over and score. Three tries in similar situations recently, indicates an effective signature move that he has developed into his arsenal of late.

After Barnes once again scored a try in reply, Liebenberg this time showed his range of passing. After orchestrating some good phase play, the Cambridge scrum-half spotted Furbank in space out wide, before throwing a perfect pass, which cut out four men on its way, giving the Cambridge winger the room to score.

Barnes struck over a penalty soon after to level the scores at 29-29, and when the hosts scored an easy try following missed tackles from Cambridge, it seemed as if the visitors’ title hopes would be suffering a dent.

But, Cambridge once again showed they were determined to fight right up until the whistle, and were putting the home defence under severe pressure. Eventually, Cambridge’s dominating second half scrummaging gave Steve Hipwell the opportunity to pick up from number eight from only a few meters out. He typically barged his way over the try-line before Gerhard Boshoff added the extras for the draw.

An afternoon of damage limitation for Cambridge. Although they weren’t at their solid best in defence, they only dropped one point in the battle with second-placed Old Albanians. OA’s won 21-26 away against Taunton Titans, but they couldn’t pick up the bonus point in doing so. Therefore, gaining four points compared to Cambridge’s three, on an afternoon that could have been better for the blood and sand, but oppositely, one that also could have been so much worse.

The Easter break now for the National League 2 South, and a welcome rest before the visit of winless Cornish All-Blacks on the 2nd April.

Report: Dan Wright

 

 

08
Mar 16

CRUFC 24-21 Old Elthamians

Cambridge took another big step towards the National League 2 South title, after coming from behind to beat Old Elthamians by 24-21 at Volac Park.

Cambridge went ahead early on in the contest though, as Chris Leatham cut through the defence before offloading to Lawrence Hutchinson who ran in unopposed to open the scoring.

OE’s controlled the next half hour or so, scoring three tries in quick succession, all of which were converted from the impressive boot of full-back Tom White.

With the wind blowing in their faces, Cambridge struggled to find an exit from their own half, but, they scored a crucial try just before the break against the run of play. Steve Hipwell broke through a few tackles before offloading to leading try scorer Albert Portsmouth for an easy cross over the whitewash.

The second half saw Cambridge playing with the breeze, and it was now OE’s who found themselves somewhat trapped in their own territory, as the kicking from Tom White became less effective in the conditions.

Even though Cambridge found themselves camped in the opposition 22 for long periods, OE’s defence was holding up well. Cambridge needed someone to step up and grab the game by the scruff of the neck. The response came from influential captain, Stef Liebenberg.

After a good chase of a loose ball by Hutchinson and Leatham, Liebenberg ran the phase play before spiking himself and then handing-off his opposite number to give him the space to dive over.

A few phases later, Cambridge won themselves a lineout on the OE’s five-metre-line. The ball came to Steve Hipwell, who once again barrelled through a few tackles to create the opening for Liebenberg to score his match-winning brace for the afternoon. James Stokes added the extras, and the final whistle went a few minutes later at 24-21.

The blood and sand had bagged themselves another five points, once again displaying their aptitude for a battle.

A week off for the league leaders now, who will be keeping a keen eye on the result between fourth-placed Redruth, and second-placed Old Albanians on Saturday.

At the moment Cambridge lead the league by 11 points, but OA’s have this game in hand on them, as well as a superior points difference.  Liebenberg said to the Volac Park crowd after the game that: “We haven’t won anything yet, there is still a long, long way to go”. 

Cambridge travel to Barnes in a fortnight, a team that will be looking to avenge the heavy defeat they suffered at Volac Park earlier this season.

Report: Dan Wright

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