Cambridge University are brought down to earth by the RAF
PUBLISHED: 10:19 09 February 2017
Iliffe Media Ltd
Light Blues suffer 19-7 defeat
Free-flowing fare or midfield grind, it is easy to guess what most people would prefer to see from a rugby match.
But while the play in the loose is easy on the eye, it can sometimes create a sevens approach, end-to-end type of game that leads to one try after another.
There was none of that at Grange Road last night, as Cambridge University and the RAF went toe-to-toe in an enthralling battle for possession and territory.
While the quality of the play may not have been of the highest standard, you could not take your eyes off the game as line breaks and opportunities were at a premium.
Moving the ball is usually the minimum prerequisite and there were certainly passages of play where there was plenty of off-loading and continuity, it was just there was probably not enough of it throughout the course of the 80 minutes.
So instead, it became a tussle at the breakdown, with both sides giving it their all in a bid to win clean ball for the backs.
Play was concentrated in the middle of the pitch, with it seldom reaching the wings and when it did, the two teams were operating a scramble defence that was proving effective – and the support was never quite there quickly enough.
It meant that scoring chances were at a premium, and that was at odds with how the game started, with Andrew Stobbs touching down following a line-out catch and drive after 10 minutes for the RAF.
And then three minutes later, good work along the line saw winger Mike Robinson race in to get a second try to make it 12-0.
But as the pace of the game slowed down, the university got back into it, winning a scrum in the 22 and then moving possession wide to the right for Ed Loftus to dart round and into the corner, with Mike Phillips landing the conversion.
The arm wrestle then began, with no quarter given or spared and with penalties at a premium, there was little opportunity to kick for territory.
It was only in the closing minutes of the match when that scenario was created for the RAF, with two penalties seeing them move to a line-out in the university 22, and after a catch and drive, Stobbs got over for his second try.
Rory Wood’s successful conversion completed a 19-7 win for the RAF, which was probably a fair result in a gripping, if perhaps not thoroughly entertaining, game.
Cambridge University: Gillies; Loftus, Davies, Triniman, Story; Phillips, Tullie; Briggs, Burnett, Moros, Rose, Bond, Stanley, Watson, Bartholomew.
Replacements: Calvert, West, Wilson, Becket, Troughton, McMahon, Bell, Girling, Parks, Omisore.
RAF: Clarke; Tupua, Webber, Queeley, Robinson; Rock, McDougall; Challenor, Stobbs, Hopkins, Hutchinson, Oliver, Forbes, Bell, Cooper.
Replacements: Harris, Philpot, Stanley, Williams, Ellis, Wood, Parker, Stevens, Arnell, Woodcock.
Scorers: 10min Stobbs try – Robinson con (0-7), 13 Robinson try (0-12), 25 Loftus try – Phillips con (7-12), 78 Stobbs try – Wood con (7-19).
Referee: R Haughton.