On a cold December day Cambridge took on defending champions Saffron Walden in their first round county cup match. Having not played a game for a month, Cambridge shook off the cobwebs after a disjointed opening quarter to prevail against a spirited opposition that never gave up.
Saffron Walden kicked off to start the match and immediately put Cambridge under pressure. Louis managed to get the ball and produced a trademark surging run in the heart of their defence. The Saffron Walden defence were tackling hard, and Cambridge soon found themselves on the back foot virtually on their own 22. Cambridge responded with some strong forward work, the ball was passed at pace through the 3/4s to Jackson. Jackson with his blistering pace, left the Saffron Walden team in his wake, as he sprinted 50m to score the first try. Harvey kicked the conversion to put Cambridge 7-0 up.
From the kick off, again Saffron Walden put Cambridge under pressure, culminating in Saffron Walden kicking a long ball downfield. William Z pulled out all the stops, and pulled off a fine tackle when it looked certain that Saffron Walden would score!
Saffron Walden were giving Cambridge a real game, with each side producing fine runs and tackles. Whenever Cambridge looked as if they might get the upperhand, Saffron Walden responded and vice-versa. Gripping stuff! Under pressure once more, Cambridge scored another try, with Jackson running from his own half to score. Harvey duly slotted the conversion. Cambridge 14-0.
Saffron Walden kicked off, and carried on with their relentless, driving, running and tackling. This tireless onslaught lead to Saffron Walden breaking free towards the try line. Surely they would score! No, this time Jonah pulled off a last gasp tackle thwarting the almost certain try. However as time went on Saffron Walden were gaining momentum, desperate to register their first points. A loose line out from Cambridge gave possession to Saffron Walden and they scored a deserved try, but missed the conversion. Game on Cambridge 14-5!
Saffron Walden gained heart from their score and immediately piled the pressure on but illegally, and resulted in the award of a rare Cambridge penalty. Reuben produced one of his powerful trade mark runs, only to be stopped by a determined Saffron Walden defence. Will, also produced a fine surging run, but for all the pressure exerted by Cambridge, Saffron Walden hung on doggedly. Then we entered a strange 5 minutes when, Cambridge were penalised time and time again, for offside, and various other infringements. They put themselves under tremendous pressure! Walker, Freddie, to name a few produced bone crunching tackles with Harry and Harvey kicking Cambridge out of trouble. A tough first half! Cambridge 14-5.
The second half kicked off with Cambridge going downhill, and with a white ball. The first half ball was a garish green and purple, and had been very difficult to see! Immediately the forwards started to exert themselves, with Elliott and Louis producing strong runs. From a resultant ruck, Freddie sprinted clear, passing to William Z, who scored our first try of the second half. Harvey missed the conversion from an acute angle. Cambridge 19-5.
Saffron Walden were awarded another penalty, but once again were thwarted again by some fearsome Cambridge tackling. Cambridge were starting to exert more pressure, running downhill was far easier, and Saffron Walden seemed to be suffering from their first half exertions. Cambridge edged to within 15m of the Saffron Walden try line, when the 3/4s pulled out a training ground manoeuvre. A scissors movement with an overlap, resulted in William Z scoring again. With a missed conversion Cambridge lead 24-5.
Although on the scoresheet Cambridge were starting to pull away, Saffron Walden weren’t going to give up that easily. Every metre of ground gained, Cambridge had to earn through every member of the team giving 100%. From a breakdown and subsequent forwards drive, the ball came out to Jonah, who opened up and let fly from 50m… No-one was going to stop him! Thankfully his father reminded him from the sidelines that he needed to touch the ball down! Harvey duly kicked another conversion. Cambridge 31-5.
Cambridge had finally warmed up!
Following a winning scrum from Cambridge, James quickly passed the ball to Freddie, who ran down the wing… try Cambridge! Harvey stepped up, and another successful conversion! Cambridge 38-5. Saffron Walden were still fighting, yet Cambridge cranked up the pressure, hitting harder, running faster and thinking quicker. 10m out from their try line, Saffron Walden were on the back foot. The forwards won another ruck, and with free flowing passing through the 3/4s fed to Reuben on the wing! He looked odds on to score, but the ball slipped through his fingers and he knocked on. Relentlessly Cambridge kept driving through Saffron Walden defences, and with a virtually the last play of the game Cambridge were awarded a 5m scrum. Cambridge won the ball, and with quick hands the 3/4s got the ball to Jackson, who touched down for another Cambridge try. Harvey narrowly missed with the conversion. Cambridge 43-5.
The whistle blew, and Cambridge had won! Saffron Walden provided tough opposition, and never gave up! Running uphill first half proved difficult for Cambridge, and with Saffron Walden constantly in their faces, it made Cambridge dig deep into their mental and physical reserves. A testing game, and one which has given the boys a thorough workout.
Reporter - Darryl Tooth
Tries: Jackson 3, William Z 2, Jonah 1, Freddie 1
Conversions: Harvey 4 (Good Kicking!)
Coaches Man-of-the-match - William Zeitlyn
Aaron Brown, Tom Cox, Jackson Dennis, Walker Harmer-Perrin, Harvey Jacklin, Harry Jones, Marcus Lankford, Max Malakfam., Lewis Maude, Freddie McKibbin, Jonah Omitowojo, William Pallett, Elliott Roberts, Louis Bodrozic, Reuben Tooth, James Young and Will Zeitlyn.