Light Blues recover from early set-back

PUBLISHED: 17:13 04 November 2016

Cambridge University Rugby. Picture: Keith Heppell

Cambridge University Rugby. Picture: Keith Heppell

Iliffe Media Ltd

Cambridge University contined their run-up to next month’s Varsity Match with a convincing 11-point win over the visting Welsh Crawshays.

The Crawshays, established in 1922 with the goal of encouraging young players and improving interclub relationships, are an invitational side selected from the clubs of Welsh Rugby Union.

With a few Bedford Blues development squad players also in the XV each year, the Light Blues always find this a challenging fixture, and this year was no exception.

Following last week’s improved performance against Saints, the Blues squad has set itself the goal of four wins from four in the run in to the Varsity Match. The 30-19 victory was significantly improved, and a step in the right direction.

But Blues found themselves 7-0 down in two minutes after Crawshays provided their backs with excellent attacking ball and a combination of sharping running lines and miscommunication in the Blues midfield allowed former Fiji U20, Orisi Nawaqaliva, to break the Blues defence and sprint to the line.

Unlike in previous games, the Blues switched on immediately and dominated the game for the remainder of the first half. Three penalties in the Crawshays half followed, with Gillies slotting all three to take the score to 9-7.

With the Crawshays dangerous on the counter attack, the Light Blues ‘kick chase and scramble’ defence was well tested, but held firm. The Blues’ superior kicking game allowed them to boss territory and once in the opposition red zone, proved clinical.

Number 8 Dass stepped and broke the Crawshays line, but was well tackled and held up over the line by the cover defence. From the resulting scrum, centre Mike Phillips carried and in the following phase, the ageless Bartholomew crashed over.

Towards the end of the half, the Blues found themselves in the opposition 22 once again; sustained pressure had the Crawshays’ defence in disarray, allowing Tullie to dummy and dart in under the sticks. Gillies continued his 100 per cent record off the tee to make the half time score 23-7.

The Light Blues started the second half as they ended the first. Brian Du Toit came on and had an immediate impact. An overthrown Crawshays lineout in their 22 was gather by Du Toit. Several hard carries by the forwards were followed by some dancing footwork by Dass, who was stopped just short; however, from the ruck, Tullie lifted the ball to Du Toit who left a defender for dead to dot down under the posts. Gillies added the extras.

The delay for an injury to Simon Davies seemed to disrupt the Blues and they were unable to get back into their rhythm; consequently, Crawshays began to dominate the game. They began to dominate at scrum and lineout, generated quick ball, broke tackles and their offloads started to stick.

As a result, the Light Blues found themselves defending almost constantly for the final half hour. Despite their hard work, the Blues unfortunately conceded two tries, but held on for a well-earned 30-19 victory.

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