Cambridge University undone by the strength of Crawshay’s Welsh XV

PUBLISHED: 00:06 09 November 2017 | UPDATED: 00:06 09 November 2017

Henry Rose, left, caught the eye for Cambridge University against Crawshay's Welsh XV

Henry Rose, left, caught the eye for Cambridge University against Crawshay's Welsh XV

Iliffe Media Ltd

Light Blues show promise in patches

With a further defeat to add to the list for the Michaelmas Term, it may feel like there are few positives to find from Cambridge University’s 29-12 defeat to Crawshay’s Welsh XV.

But while they may be more chinks rather than rays, there was definitely still light leading to the end of the Varsity Match tunnel.

An old motto at Grange Road was the search for incremental improvements, and scratch a little beneath the surface and they were there again for the Light Blues.

The first thing to note is the strength of the Crawshay’s Welsh XV, as a representative side they are often able to produce a squad that is able to pose a stern test to the students; the key requirement in the build-up to facing Oxford.

Mike Rayer used his contacts book to great effect to bring together a group of players that were able to blend backs flair with forwards brute force.

That was evident with a mere 16 seconds on the clock, as the Light Blues defence parted for Matthew Jacobs to stride clear to touch down, and Dan Lewis touched down.

However, that generosity was not to be extended to the visitors again in the first half, and that was one of the bright parts of the evening for the university.

With the exception of a long-range penalty from Lewis in the 11th minutes, Crawshay’s found it really difficult to break out of their own half, and that was down to the high defensive line from the Light Blues.

They were spreading well across the pitch, restricting any space and winning most of the ball off their own set-piece. It meant Crawshay’s were having to work extremely hard for any outs, and they were few and far between.

What you would say was that the university’s backs were not getting as much quick, clean ball as they would have liked.

Before Lewis’ penalty though, Archie Russell’s neat footwork took him round the visitors defence to touch down, a well-worked try out wide.

It was another rearranged pack for the university as they continue to battle for continuity of selection, but Henry Rose stood out in the second row, creating some good running lines in the loose while also proving dominant in the line-out.

With the scrum also holding its own, it was leading to sustained pressure in the 22, and the university earned their rewards before half time as replacement scrum-half Chris Bell popped a ball up for Sam Troughton to power through on to touch down, with Hennessey converting.

However, Crawshay’s took control of the game in the second half, with the introduction of old Blue Dave Spelman in the front row creating much of the damage as the visitors exerted scrum dominance.

The students found themselves pinned back in their own half for long periods, and it was on 50 minutes that Crawshay’s went back in front as Keiran Meek’s grubber kick finally unlocked the host’s rigid defence for old Blue Fred Burdon to race on to to touch down. Lewis landed the conversion.

Ten minutes later, good work off the back of a scrum led to Newport’s Josh Reid touching down under a pile of bodies.

The win was wrapped up two minutes from time as more good work going through the phases saw Spelman finally ground the ball, with Meek’s extras the final points of the game.

But while it was a defeat for the university, given the quality of the opposition they should be optimistic that they can take forward some elements of the performance to help them produce a fully-rounded game at Twickenham on December 7.

Cambridge University: Amesbury; Loftus, Russell, Triniman, King; Hennessey; Briggs, Huppatz, Dixon, Beckett, Rose, Troughton, Hammond, Watson.

Replacements: Calvert, Moros, McCallum, Hargreaves, Eriksen, Bell, Story, Griffiths.

Crawshay’s Welsh XV: Meek (Pontypool); Hyatt (Gowerton), Jacobs (Aberystwyth), Burdon (Yorkshire Carnegie), Varney (Crymych); Lewis (Bedford Blues), Quick (Pontypool); Burgess (Aberavon), Tanner (Hinckley), Bridges (Penallta), Evans (Pontypridd), Brown (Newport), George (Aberavon), Price (Llandovery), Dudley Jones (Aberavon).

Replacements: Whitson (Reading), Price Jones (Crosskeys), Spelman (Bedford Blues), Kolakowski (Peterborough), Reid (Newport), Pritchard (Crosskeys), Ashby Moscardini (Bargoed), Hutler (Bedford Blues).

Scorers: 16sec Jacobs try – Lewis con (0-7), 9 Hennessy try (5-7), 11 Lewis pen (5-10), 39 Rose try – Hennessey con (12-10), 50 Burdon try – Lewis con (12-17), 61 Reid try (12-22), 78 Spelman try – Meek con (12-29).

Sin bin: Crawshays – Evans (technical offence, 30).

Referee: Tim Allatt.

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