Bishop's Stortford 27 - 33 Cambridge
Fun in the sun - and rain
Encounters between Bishop Stortford and Cambridge are always tight affairs, none more so than the one in Cambridge this season which went to the final kick. This one was another classic.
The Blood and Sand gave a debut to Cambridge Blue Archie Russell, brother of Finn, who started at 13.
Cambridge started brightly with two tries. The first after seven minutes came from a flowing set of moves finished by Vincent Hart and the second, three minutes later, from a forward drive touched down by Louis Rawlings. Ben Penfold converted the first, but missed the second.
Stortford then woke up and looked after the ball, putting Cambridge under great pressure. Twice the Blood and Sand held Stortford up on the line. Bodies were put on the line. Matt Meek limped off with a back spasm, Ean Griffiths was knocked out and Josh Peters suffered an unfortunate knock in shall we say a delicate region.
On twenty minutes the referee ordered a drinks break due to the heat. Finally after around ten minutes of pressure Stortford scored. They added a second just before half time, both were converted giving the hosts a 14-12 lead. Cambridge's injury list grew as Vincent Hart limped off.
The second half started with more pressure from Stortford, leading to a penalty which was kicked successfully. The pressure continued, but Cameron Keenan pounced on loose pass intercepted and ran in seventy metres to score under the posts Ben Penfold added the extras to retake the lead 17-19.
However, Stortford continued to press. The penalty count against Cambridge mounted. Stortford missed a penalty attempt by inches. Eventually Sir had had enough, and Ashley Elvers was shown a yellow - that kick did go through the posts 17-20 with 25 minutes to go.
A second drinks break was ordered - even though the sky had clouded over and it was actually getting chilly.
A turnover, a great run by Foxy who off loaded to Jake McCloud who dived over for a try and Cambridge were back in from 20-26. Matt Hema added a fifth to stretch the lead 20-33 to secure victory. The hosts managed a try with the last play to reduce the lead to 27-33 and claim a losing bonus point, just as the rain started.
For a high scoring game, with end to end high paced play, it might seem odd to say - but defence was the key to this match. Cambridge made the hosts work hard for every try, while clinically taking the chances they created. Holding up the hosts twice on the line in the first half and not conceding a try,or even looking as if they would, when down to 14 men in the second were keys to victory.
Victory, coupled with defeat for Hull Ionians secured our place in National 1 for another season. We will say goodbye to Old Albanians. Hull Ionians must win at Coventry if they are to have any chance of avoiding relegation. However, on a brighter note, we will welcome Cinderford. Sale FC should clinch the National 2 North title next week, which would mean Sedgley Park would travel to Chinnor for the play off.