A Word With Rowland Winter

I spoke yesterday with Cambridge Director of Rugby, Rowland Winter, to get his views on the season that’s just passed.  I also ask about the End of Season Dinner and Player Awards and about preparations in place for next season.  Listen to the interview below………

 

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Old Elthamians vs Cambridge

A frustrating afternoon for a below par Cambridge team, saw their winning streak come to an end away against Old Elthamians.

Cambridge had won six in a row before Old Elthamains narrowly inflicted a 27-26 defeat on them in a last-kick decider.

Cambridge seemed to be off the pace from the start, as they repeatedly lost their discipline at the breakdown, and this lead to Elthamians number ten Tom White, kicking the opening nine points from penalties.

Old Elthamians then showed they can also run the ball, as they managed to touch down following a nice move out to the right and a little chip over the fullback for the opening try of the game, and they had earned an early 16-0 lead.

Old Elthamians were in full control of the contest at this stage, but then a moment of madness from Tom White. He deliberately knocked-on and earned himself a yellow card, which White verbally disputed. Almost immediately, the referee put the yellow back in his pocket and pulled out the red one instead for dissent, clearly having heard something he didn’t approve of.

This gave Cambridge the bit of encouragement that they were desperately needing, now knowing they would play almost an hour with an extra man.

It took them to just before halftime to make it count though, when the familiar sight of Steve Hipwell crashing through tackles broke the line, before he offloaded to Matt Howling running a good support line to put the away side on the board. The halftime whistle followed James Stokes’ conversion and the score was 16-7.

Cambridge started the second half struggling to gain any control in the set-pieces, as they faltered in the scrum and at the line-outs.

The home side took full advantage as they slotted another penalty, before scoring their second try and making the scoreboard a disappointing one for the Blood and Sand at 24-7.

But, something sparked Cambridge into life, though it seemed it may be a case of too little, too late. A superb try from substitute Jim Wigglesworth made the score look more respectable, before a brilliant solo try from Captain Stef Liebenberg gave them genuine hope at 24-19.
Wigglesworth’s try was all about the winger’s pure speed, but Scrum-half Liebenberg’s, was all about craft. He picked the ball up at the back of the ruck, before cutting inside the defensive line with a little show and go. He was now one-on-one with their full-back, but sold him a perfect dummy before crossing the line.

With five minutes left, Cambridge then broke again, and Matt Howling grabbed his second try of the day courtesy of a sweeping move through the hands. Remarkably, it now seemed certain that they would leave with an unlikely victory, as Wigglesworth converted to make it 24-26.
With only a few minutes left though, Cambridge once again gave away a penalty following a set piece, and Old Elthamains regained the lead by 27-26.

However, Cambridge won the ball back quickly from the restart and began to recycle the ball well. Old Elthamians, still a man light, couldn’t cope with the pressure and gave away a penalty from just in front of the ten metre line. But, Wigglesworth’s kick skewed right of the posts, and the whistle went.

 

 

On the balance of it, Cambridge probably didn’t deserve to win this one, but will nevertheless be disappointed to have lost after putting themselves into a winning position.

They will look forward though to their last home fixture against Canterbury next Saturday, as they hope to put on a better showing for the Volac Park faithful than here at Old Elthamians.

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.