Report and interview vs Loughborough
Report and interview with Steve Jackson, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and Ross Stewart.
A disappointing afternoon at Volac Park saw Cambridge unable to overcome a stubborn Loughborough side.
The visitors touched down in the second-half to crucially score the only try of the game, which ultimately won it for them by 9-14.
The heavens opened just as the game kicked off, and this clearly didn’t help either side in the way the like to play their rugby; with fluency through the line in attack. The weather did clear for the second-half, but conditions were still greasy, and knock-ons littered the entire eighty-minutes. When Cambridge did look like they would find the breakthrough, another handling error scuppered them.
The blood and sand tried to counter this by frequent use of the boot, trying to push Loughborough back and turn the pressure onto them. It didn’t work, the kicking wasn’t good enough, and if anything, they invited pressure back onto themselves. Director of rugby, Ross Stewart said after the game; “With a kicking game, you’ve got to beat them and tackle them on the game line or beyond it, and I think they got the better of us in those areas.”
Both sides showed that they are very capable in defence, but going forward, the visitors didn’t cover themselves in glory either. Both sides struggled to keep ball-in-hand, and the game could have gone either way. Without one defensive error that allowed Loughborough the crucial score, it may well have ended 9-9, three penalties apiece.
Cambridge did show the intent that they wanted to get across the line. On a few occasions, they had the opportunity to kick for another three points, but they opted for the attacking option and kicked for the corner, where either solid defending or further handling errors from the home side undid the good work that had got them into a scoring position. It’s easy to say with hindsight that had these penalty points been kicked, they could have won the game, but the Volac Park crowd always want to see the aggressive option and to get tries on the board.
Stewart said; “At the set-piece we had two key lineouts, where we’ve made errors off our own ball. We want to kick to the corner, we want to score tries, but that’s down to our own execution. Credit to Loughborough though, they turned up and played conditions well. They took their kicks and took their try well. For us, we’re not happy with that performance and we’ve got to go away and work harder and try to put it right for next week.”
Certainly, Stewart and his team still have work to do. They may hope for rain in training this week, as in these conditions, Cambridge looked a completely different side to the one they were last week and before that in pre-season; fixtures that have all seen fair-weather.
Stewart explained; “It was a poor game. Both teams would admit that in that first thirty minutes, the weather was horrendous. But the one thing that disappointed me was that we didn’t have that energy. This is our ground, and to be brutally honest, they out energised us. That hurts me and that hurts the team, this is our fortress and that’s what we want it to be.”
Next week, Cambridge travel to Darlington, and they’ll be hoping the conditions are fine. For the last couple of seasons at least, there has been a question mark hanging over the blood and sand when conditions don’t suit running rugby, and it remains a cause for concern. Heading forwards into a long National One season, it is something they must put right.