Cambridge University succumb to the power of Richmond Vikings
PUBLISHED: 21:18 24 October 2018 | UPDATED: 21:53 24 October 2018
Iliffe Media Ltd
Plenty of positives for Light Blues in defeat in south west London
Mental fortitude was a redeeming feature of Cambridge University’s 33-7 defeat at Richmond Vikings.
It would be easy to get fixated on the final score, but there was so much more to the game than the result against strong opposition.
Technical, tactical and physical aptitude often become the primary concerns, so much so that the importance of mental resilience and focus can be overshadowed.
To win a Varsity Match, everything must be spot on during the course of the game – and creating those scenarios in a training environment cannot always be assured.
It is why the first half in south west London will have taught captain Nick Koster and head coach James Shanahan even more about the Light Blues.
Richmond Vikings were the ideal opponents, offering ferocity in many parts of their play, particularly with a hard edge and power in the forwards that shone through at the set piece.
It meant that the students were put under the cosh at the scrum, clearly being driven backwards on their own ball, but how they dealt with that strain caught the eye.
They did not panic or force the issue on their exit plays, they maintained their composure and with the expertise and diligence of Koster at No 8, managed to navigate their way off their own line.
It meant that they were having to weather wave after wave of attacks in the first 25 minutes, but by keeping their discipline, line speed, organisation and position, they were able to repel the attacks.
That toughness and determination was all about mental strength, as the majority of that period was spent camped deep in their own 22.
A high tackle from Richmond prop Dan Parkinson earned him a yellow card in the 23rd minute, and that helped ease the pressure somewhat.
Having fought so hard to protect their own line, the Light Blues went closest to getting the first try when Joey Gatus broke clear on the wing, only to be denied by a superb last-ditch tackle by Rhodri Adamson.
It was 10-man maul from a catch and drive at a line-out that led to the eventual breakthrough for Richmond, with Adam Lee getting the try and Adamson landing the conversion.
However, the university went into the break on level terms.
Good possession play across the line led to Mike Phillips getting the ball, and his brilliant grubber kick into the corner saw Gatus dart in to touch down. Phillips landed the conversion to make it 7-7.
It was more of the same from Richmond in the start of the second half, but the breakthroughs came more readily as the stress on the defence showed no signing of easing, with the penalty count against the university clocking up.
Richmond made it pay from another catch and drive at a line-out, this time with Callum Grant going over.
After both sides were reduced to 14 for 10 minutes – there had been a bit of needle throughout the game - Richmond got another try, which was also converted.
As replacements were made, the Vikings’ strength in depth told as Harrison Edwards touched down a fourth try for the hosts, with Adamson’s conversion making it 26-7.
Richmond added one more try to their total to complete the win.
The Light Blues will probably be a little disappointed with the final score, but they were up against a strong Richmond Vikings’ team and although the second half did not match the first – it is a big ask to defend for an entire 80 minutes – there were plenty of positives to take from the game.
Richmond Vikings: Adamson; Moseley, Ward, Hudson, Rath; Gabbitass, Maman; Opedo, Freestone, Parkinson, Crawford, Culverhouse, Dow, Lee, Edwards.
Replacements: Wood, Corradi, Walters, Wem, Jeffs.
Cambridge University: Blick; Gatus, Gnodde, Hennessey, King; Phillips, Bell; MacCallum, Huppatz, Dean, Hunter, Eriksen, Hargreaves, McMahon, Koster.
Replacements: Schusman, Dixon, Somers, Beckett, Walton, Saunders, Roberts-Huntley, Story.
Sin bin: Vikings – Parkinson (foul play, 23), Wem (foul play, 59); Cambridge University – Hunter (foul play, 59).
Scorers: 40+1min Lee try – Adamson con (7-0), 40+5 Gatus try – Phillips con (7-7), 56 Grant try (12-7), 61 Jeffs try – Adamson con (19-7), 68 Edwards try – Adamson con (26-7).