Cambridge vs Southend Saxons 21/2/2015

Cambridge once again left it late, very late, this time to get the victory by 26-19, over a battling Southend side.

Like last week in Lydney, Cambridge seemed in control in the opening stages, as they put three well-worked tries on the board. Tom Ellis, Martin Wolfenden and Pete Kolakowski all touched over the whitewash to give the home side an early advantage of 19-3.

Cambridge then seemed to get themselves dragged into a battle they could have avoided. Southend had a strong pack as always, and largely dominated in the scrums.

The visitors managed to march their way up the pitch, and Cambridge gave away a few sloppy penalties to give them hope at the break, as they came off with the score at 19-9.

The second half started in much the same vein. Southend showed the desire in trying to escape the relegation zone, and fought themselves over the line twice in quick succession. Fortunately for Cambridge, both conversions were wide of the mark to leave the scores level at 19-19.

The introduction of Ben Penfold and Mike Gillick to the back line certainly got Cambridge playing in a more attacking style once again. Chances came and went, but with only a few minutes left on the clock, they won a penalty just on a slight angle on the 22. As soon as Penfold struck the ball, he let out a shout of annoyance, and everyone in the ground knew it had missed.

It seemed as if that would be that, a disappointing draw. But, with one last effort, Cambridge swept the ball out to the right. Gillick drew the defenders in, before offloading to James Ayrton, who was winning his 50th cap for the Blood and Sand. Ayrton coaxed in another Southend defender, before popping the ball to Corey Hircock, who had a clear run under the posts.

An incredible finish. Cambridge have entertained their home fans more than most with late drama this season, and this one was certainly dramatic. With the last strike of the game, Penfold kicked the extras over to send Southend home with their tails between their legs, thinking of what could have been, as they left Cambridge out on the pitch to celebrate another miraculous five points as the game finished 26-19.

Cambridge have now won 11 of their last 16, and will be hoping to keep the pressure firmly on those above them in a fortnight’s time, when they make the tough trip down to Launceston.

Some video highlights of the match, plus some behind the scenes stuff will follow soon.

For any more news on CRUFC, please visit their website www.crufc.co.uk

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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.

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