Cambridge vs Clifton

A first half try-fest proved too much for Clifton, as Cambridge racked up their sixth win in a row, by 46-7.

The first 20 minutes though, saw both sides trying to adapt to the howling winds blowing across Volac Park.

But once Cambridge closed up the gaps in the line, some clever offloads, combined with speed and some good lines, saw the deadlock broken.

After the first try from Matt Goode, the floodgates opened, and Cambridge put on an attacking demonstration for the home crowd.

The ten minutes leading up to the half-time whistle saw the Blood and Sand cross the whitewash five times to give them a 29-0 lead at the break. This included a first half hat-trick for Matt Goode.

The first was created by the powerhouse number eight Steve Hipwell, who smashed through two tackles before passing the ball to Goode for an easy opening to the scoring.

A moment later, the impressive Ben Penfold at fly-half threw in a cheeky reverse pop-pass, which tore another hole in the usually stubborn Clifton defence, and Goode had his second.

The third came from a break down the left by Jim Wigglesworth, but this time Goode had a little more legwork to do himself, as he put the burners on to score in the corner.

Two more tries came through Wigglesworth and prop Thomas Jones. For the first, Wigglesworth created his own score this time, as he showed his opposite number a clean set of heels, stepping and running round him to cross over.

The second for Jones, came through some good handling skills down the line. The ball came out to the right quickly, and Jones was the extra man over to touch down unopposed in the corner.

The second half started similarly, as Ollie Marriott broke through inside a minute of the restart to kill any hopes Clifton may have still harboured, playing with the advantage of the wind behind them in the second half.

The only trouble Cambridge faced in the game was when they received two yellow cards, and for almost ten minutes, were playing with 13 against 15. The defensive line was tested for the only prolonged spell of the game, and to Clifton’s credit, they did manage their only score of the game from a driving maul, as the Cambridge pack struggled to cope minus two forwards.

Once Cambridge were back up to full strength, the game seemed to just peter out, as both sides knew the result was already beyond doubt, and Cambridge would be keeping the full five points at Volac Park.

But, right on the whistle, there was one more try for the home fans to cheer, as James Stokes latched on to a Wigglesworth grubber-kick to score a well-deserved try. The final whistle then blew as Stokes struck the conversion attempt, and Cambridge had won 46-7 at a canter.

The hard work that Cambridge have put in is paying dividends on the pitch now, the only disappointing thing, is that there are only three games left this season, the next of which is away to Old Elthamians on the 11th April. But, with the bulk of the squad having already signed on for next season, the future is bright.

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Tracey Baxter and Ian Whitby Profile

First Team Manager Tracey Baxter believes he may be throwing the club into chaos in the near future.  This is because he will be missing the first few fixtures at the start of next season, as he will be the Team Liaison Officer for Argentina during the upcoming World Cup in September and October (depending on how far the Argies go in the tournament).

“Who will keep the boys in-check while I’m away.  Ian Whitby will take over my role in my absence, but he’s more of the good cop and I’m the bad, and I fear the players may take advantage of him!  But, on the other hand, if he copes well I may not have a job when I come back!”

Tracey Baxter
Tracey Baxter

Ian, Cambridge’s Kit Manager, replied by saying: “No need to worry.  We’ve coped without you in the past, plus, there were lots before you and there will be plenty after, so no panic!”

Tracey has been part of the club since 1985, when he joined as a player, as a second or back row forward.  When he finished playing, he took on the role of coaching the youth and colts, before also combining this with coaching the County and Eastern Counties age grade sides.  Then, more recently as one of two coaches working with the Cambridge Development squad.

  • From 1985 to 2000, Tracey and Ian made over 350 appearances for the club, scoring 25 tries between them.

Nowadays though, their glamour has faded somewhat, but the roles they play within the club are still extremely valuable, and their faces are ever-present wherever the team goes.  Tracey’s duties include organising the travel and food amongst others, but probably most difficult of all is keeping tabs on the players!

He says: “The playing standard here has certainly risen since I played, but the players themselves are needier than ever! Players want certain things at certain times: Greeny ‘needs’ his wrist tape, Jim Wigglesworth always ‘needs’ a guzzle of Lucozade before going out, yet he can never find the bottle, even though they’re always in exactly the same place!  Wolfie likes to cuddle a water bottle throughout the warm-up and always manages to lose it.  The list goes on, but their hearts are in the right place!”

“Wolfie likes to cuddle…”

Ian’s job is that of kit man, and having seen some of the mud-baths we’ve been involved with recently, a job I do not envy.  He must cringe when the team has to come in at half-time and change kits because they’re caked in mud!  Double the amount to wash!

Ian_Whitby
Ian Whitby

But, his duties don’t end there, and as Tracey knows all too well, the players can often be the biggest burden on the job.  Ian says: “I get all the kit ready to go on Thursday night.  I often get calls or e-mails on Friday night, sometimes when they should really be in bed already!  Some say “Have you seen my gum shield?” or “did I leave my boots at training”, Wolfie is one of the main culprits!  Some players are just a bit spoilt, our club captain Stef for example, he wants everything set out just right for him, but we just have to try to keep them happy!”.

Sometimes though it’s not just the players.  Ian says: “Rowland Winter can be a real pain at times!  He has a knack of wanting something at the last minute.  We have to second guess him sometimes and say yep, we’ve packed that already.  I’d say we only use about a tenth of the gear we take away with us on a Saturday!

“Rowland Winter can be a real pain!” 

To read the full article and much more at http://www.crufc.co.uk

Lydney vs Cambridge 14/2/15

Cambridge grabbed a last minute winner against Lydney in an absolute thriller.

They left it late, and could of won the game more comfortably than they did, when 18-17 down, with just a minute or two left, they won a penalty inside the Lydney 22. Instead of taking the three points for the penalty and an almost certain win, they went for a scrum, in a brave attempt to win DSC_0419five, with a bonus try point up for grabs.

A bold call, and it looked as if it was the wrong one, when the men in red knocked on from the scrum. There was time for another phase of play though, and from a Lydney scrum, Cambridge pushed the pack back on their heels, the ball popped loose and flanker Matthew Howling reacted first. He picked up and drove over the line for his second of the afternoon, which sparked the victory celebrations.

Matt Howling takes the plaudits after the game winner
Matt Howling takes the plaudits after the game winner

The returning Ben Penfold stuck over the extra two to give Cambridge the win by 18-24. The whistle went, and incredibly, they would leave with the full five points. Early on in the contest, it seemed unlikely the result would be anywhere near as close as it turned out to be, as Cambridge dominated and scored two tries inside the first twenty minutes, through Howling and Matthew Goode.

A repeat of somewhere near the 50 points Cambridge scored against them in the reverse fixture looked a possibility. Lydney fought back with intent though, as you’d expect from a side that finds themselves deep in relegation trouble, and they levelled it up with two tries of their own to make it 10-10 at the break.

Lydney started the second half the way they finished the first. They were now winning the battles, making fewer errors, and they had soon crossed the line again to take the lead for the first time at 15-10. Cambridge regained their discipline and were knocking on the door of Lydney’s defence for long periods. They managed to work their way up well to the Lydney five, and won a penalty, for which the offender was yellow carded.

Cambridge had dominated the scrum all afternoon, and unsurprisingly chose to do just that from the penalty. Lydney tried all the tricks in the book to keep them from being pushed over their own line, wheeling and dropping the scrum, and eventually the referee had seen enough, and awarded the penalty try against them. Penfold added the extras to make it 15-17.

Ben Penfold converts.
Ben Penfold converts.

The home side had one more effort left in the tank though, and from a high kick, won a penalty as the kicker was tackled late. The Lydney fly half slotted through the posts to give them the advantage back, and what looked like victory at 18-17, before the incredible finish had a chance to pan itself out.

For the first time this season, Cambridge have now won more games than they’ve lost, at 12 to 11. The signs of improvement are clear heading towards next season, but they will still want to finish as high as possible in the league this term, and face the visit of Southend next week.

Check out http://www.crufc.co.uk for more info and updates.

Albert Portsmouth shows his appreciation for game winner Matthew Howling.
Albert Portsmouth shows his appreciation for game winner Matthew Howling.