So what to say about today?
A tremendous performance by the guys against a very good Shelford XV and a game played in good spirit by both sides who came to play full on rugby. The weather thankfully played ball, clearing up with the sun making an appearance though it did get cold towards the end.
Paul Wilson took charge in the middle well supported by his 2 AR’s from CUDDRS, our thanks to them.
The early exchanges were quite ferocious, when aren’t Cambridge and Shelford games ferocious. First blood went to Shelford, they pressured the Cambridge line and their powerful runs were halted by some huge hits from Noah, James, Ben, and Oskar to name but a few. That stout defense kept Shelford out but an infringement gave them the opportunity to take the points, which they duly did. 0-3
Cambridge then got into their structured play, with Paul and Ben pulling the strings and the forwards providing great ball go forward ball at the breakdown and set piece. Darren had in the pre match talk emphasised the importance of the scrum and the front five, Alex, Callum, Lewis, (then Tom and Steve when they came on) Declan and Ed delivered. They destroyed the Shelford scrum all game giving, Paul a great platform and making it hard for the Shelford #9 on their put in. Our pressure eventually told and Paul Dennis, in his last game for us, went over with Ben adding the extras. 7-3
Cambridge continued to pressure and our defense halted Shelfords powerful runners time after time, everyone putting in great tackles low and powerful, putting people down. Noah Sloot, Callum Cleaver and Richard Just were all over the place snaffling ball. When a penalty ensued just outside the Shelford 22 Ben put it over. 10-3
Cambridge thought they had scored again in the corner but the final pass was adjudged forward. Ben also had another penalty chance just on halftime but missed to the left, just.
Darren’s calming words to the in the break were to keep playing as we were, both teams were still in it, we were close to putting them away but Shelford were one clean break from being right in it.
The big hits in defense finally took their toll on Oskar Dixon’s shoulder with a ‘stinger’ and Aston Cox replaced him. Good defense and Bens booming kicks kept Shelford at bay, however his radar was off on a couple of penalties that went begging. However Cambridge continued to press and Tom Wells (also in his last game for the club) went over under the post with Ben adding the extras. 17-3
Tiredness and Shelford’s continual efforts saw them breaching the gain line a bit more frequently and although our scramble defence was good, it finally brought them their reward with their #10’s darting run taking him under the posts. 17-10 with 24 min to go.
Tension was high on the side-lines, especially when what seemed kickable penalties were spurned for the dominant scrums. But the team on the pitch kept their cool and the set piece pressure eventually brought a kick in front of the posts and Ben duly obliged.
20-10 with 7.5 minutes to go.
Another strong run by Julian saw a great breakout which was halted with a bang to the head (accidental) and what turned out to be 12 stitches. Cambridge continued to defend well and looked to play deep in the Shelford half. Powerful runs by Ben and others close to the line were stopped by good defense, however the ball was recycled, Ben called for it right and fed a long ball to Will Law, who scored in the corner. Ben just missed with the extras.
Full time 25-10
A tremendous squad effort today and in fact a tremendous squad effort since Shelford beat us on January 2nd. Since then we have been undefeated in league and cup. Today was a well deserved reward for the focus and commitment the squad have shown, the rugby played today was of the highest quality. Todays MOM was James Peach, though there were standout performances all over the pitch some of James hits were outstanding!
We look forward to showing off the trophy at the last 1st XV match of the season on April 30th where we’d like as many of the squad who have played this season to join in another celebration!
Report: John Pritchard