Cambridge lost their sixth game in a row, as they succumbed 30-39 against promotion chasing Birmingham Moseley.
A 7-minute period either side of halftime cost Cambridge the chance of an emphatic win along with an invaluable five points against a team who had brushed them aside 74-14 earlier in the season.
What a statement it could and perhaps should have been.
Early on, the home side were playing the better stuff in what was still a good contest, but they couldn’t quite make it count on the scoreboard, and after 37 minutes the scores stood at 8 apiece.
Cambridge were again applying the pressure before a yellow card to Moseley prop James Burgoyne for offside. This yellow card started the short phase of the game that cost Cambridge so dearly.
With Moseley down to fourteen and facing a Cambridge lineout from their own five-metre-line, it seemed as if the hosts could stamp their authority on the game and make some headway on the scoreboard.
However, the swing in the other direction was remarkable. Moseley won the ball back deep in their own territory and caught Cambridge on the break to score before halftime.
After it, even with the numerical advantage, vast gaps opened up in the home defence for Moseley to almost stroll through. 3 tries in the space of an embarrassing 4 minutes almost put an end to the contest.
Burgoyne now returned to the game with his side ahead by 8-32. He may have been wondering why he had been playing at all, not that he had played poorly prior to his caution!
To give credit to Cambridge, they regrouped well. From here, they dominated for much of the second-half, just as they had the first.
Tries from Tom Nutley and Gareth Baxter on his 50th cap came before a reply from the visitors.
Cambridge were soon on the front foot again though with a spectacular try after James Ayrton kicked on for his brother Mike, before he then kicked a perfectly weighted ball on for himself to gather and touch down.
Cambridge had secured themselves a bonus try point. The makeable conversion though was a rushed drop-kick taken by George Furbank, understandable when Cambridge wanted to make sure of the restart before time ran out. In hindsight, maybe just a few seconds to fetch the kicking tee or for composure before striking the ball may have been wise, if there was indeed time to do so; the conversion was missed.
Cambridge did score again through Dan Seal, driving over following a lineout. This kick however, was right in the corner. The score was now 30-39 and the kick would be the last action of the match. The conversion and two points, would give Cambridge a second losing bonus point for being within seven points of Moseley in defeat. Furbank struck it well, but unfortunately just left of the posts.
A hugely frustrating afternoon for the blood and sand. A performance worthy of far more than the single point they gained.
The next fixture for Cambridge awaits on Saturday as they travel to Macclesfield, who currently sit a distant bottom-place in the table.
Report: Dan Wright