CRUFC 15-40 Plymouth Albion
CRUFC 15-40 Plymouth Albion
A spirited performance from the blood and sand ended in a 15-40 defeat against Plymouth Albion in what is known in sport as a “dead rubber”.
Plymouth visited Volac Park, guaranteed to finish second in the table. Cambridge themselves had guaranteed their National League One status for next season in the previous weeks, and were playing for a possible league finish of between 12th and 14th.
Considering the circumstances, the game was played with real passion and tempo, and both managed long periods of excellent rugby, entertaining the supporters of both sides who had turned out in their droves to show support for their team and their efforts during a gruelling campaign.
After a bright start from both sides, it was the visitors that got themselves on the scoreboard first.
All afternoon, Plymouth kept excellent width across their back-line and passed the ball quickly and accurately, stretching the Cambridge defence to their limit. The pressure told and they crossed in the corner for a 0-5 advantage.
The hosts hit back through Albert Portsmouth, following a break at the back of a strong scrum.
The game was back-and-forth from here, both sides showing exceptional skill and patience, both offensively and defensively. Cambridge kept the pressure on and were controlling the play heading into the last ten minutes of the first half, but couldn’t find another way through. Stef Liebenberg however, created space for Jack Green to competently slot over a drop goal in the 37th minute to take them into what looked like an 8-5 lead at the break.
Three tries in the space of five minutes just before and just after halftime ruined Cambridge’s chances of winning the game, but, to their credit, they kept their heads up and responded well from an 8-26 deficit at that stage.
Liebenberg spotted a gap following another strong scrum from the Cambridge pack. He darted through it and managed to turn through the tackle, earning him the space to touch down.
Plymouth scored the last two tries of the game though following uncharacteristic errors from Cambridge on the day, who up until then had been very solid. The first came after Cambridge lost the ball from the back of their own scrum. Plymouth picked up the loose ball and returned it for an easy score. The second was a disappointing interception, again allowing the visitors to return the distance.
The game finished shortly afterwards at 15-40, and even though Cambridge had conceded 40 points, it would be fair to say that barring the two late errors, it was still one of their more accomplished performances of the season considering the quality of the opposition.
Plymouth demonstrated the skill as to why they are the second-best side in this league this season, and Cambridge kept with them for most of the game, not just withstanding their offence, displaying real grit and determination, but also not being afraid to take the game to them going forward.
You’d have to believe that Plymouth will be at the sharp end of the National League One table again next season, and if Cambridge can produce the kind of rugby they did here over 70 minutes, there is real promise for a stronger campaign next time around.
We all now eagerly await news over the summer of player arrivals and exits as Ross Stewart builds his squad for another exciting campaign.
The future’s bright, the future’s blood and sand.
Report: Dan Wright