Cambridge earn emphatic win
Cambridge comfortably beat Old Ablanians by 7-54
Cambridge returned to winning ways in emphatic style after beating Old Albanians by 7-54.
Before kick-off, Ross Stewart had put the pressure firmly on his players as he described the fixture as a non-negotiable, a must win. His squad did not let him down.
Cambridge attacked with intensity from the off and perhaps should have scored in the opening minutes but knocked-on close to the line. They returned into the danger zone shortly after, and won a penalty which was kicked narrowly wide by Jack Green.
The pressure continued and on the next drive, the visitors deservedly got themselves on the board. Old Albanians were not providing much opposition for an attack-minded yet organised Cambridge side, as they struggled to gain any control on the game. By halftime, the Blood and Sand had stretched their advantage to 0-28.
Cambridge continued to dominate during the second period, and besides one handling mistake which led to a try for the hosts, the visitors never looked stretched.
They dominated the scrum all afternoon, were efficient in the lineout and maul, and when they moved the ball quickly down the line, the OA’s defence split under the strain, and the performance earned Stewart and his squad, eight tries and a crucial five points.
However, it wasn’t an afternoon exclusively of positives. Lawrence Hutchinson went off with a leg injury in the opening minute, and he was joined on the side-lines by Olli Petrides shortly afterwards, courtesy of a knock to his right knee.
These latest setbacks now see a total of 19 players on either the injury list or absent due to dual registration, but there were positives to arise from the injury trouble. Ashley Elvers came on for Hutchinson and arguably put in a man-of-the-match performance, scoring a brace of tries. Ben Penfold came on for Petrides, positioned at ten and with Green at twelve, they managed the game well.
Stewart said after the game; “The injuries are disappointing, but it is what it is. We see it as another opportunity for someone else to come in and perform and Ash has come on today and shown real energy and scored two tries. Having Ben and Jack on the pitch together also worked well for us, they’re not quite George Ford and Owen Farrell, but it gives us another kicking option and greater control from around the breakdown. We didn’t really plan it, but heading forward, it’s an option and something we’ll look at.”
The real test comes next week against Blackheath. The word around the squad is that they still feel their goal of a top-six place in the league is achievable. If they are going to fulfil that ambition, then a home win against 5th placed Blackheath must be another non-negotiable, and they must string a good run of results together to put pressure on those above them in the table.
Stewart explained; “No disrespect to OA’s, but there have been stronger OA’s teams out there in the past, but now we focus on the games ahead. We know what we want to do and where we want to be, it’s about building week-on-week upon the foundations we’ve got. We know that the challenge next week will be far greater, and the level will go up a notch. That’s the nature of this league though; a few wins and you can fly up the table, but also a few losses and you can slip right down it. We’ll not get carried away with anything, but, we’ve got five games before Christmas and we’ll get back to the drawing board, because ultimately, we want to try and win all of them.
By Daniel Wright