Nick Koster praises the bedrock of work rate and effort at Cambridge University RUFC

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 November 2018

Cambridge University captain Nick Koster in last year's Varsity Match.

Cambridge University captain Nick Koster in last year's Varsity Match.

Iliffe Media Ltd

Countdown on for Light Blues as halfway point of campaign is passed

Nick Koster believes Cambridge University are starting to kick on after passing the midway point of the Michaelmas Term.

The Light Blues have played six games and have four left to go before facing Oxford in the Varsity Match at Twickenham on Thursday, December 6.

The opening six matches have been used in two different blocks, with the first group of four being seen as almost a pre-season schedule to look at the wider squad, and the last two have been a bit more focused on facing the Dark Blues.

“In the first three to four games we rotated the squad a bit because we’ve got a lot of young guys who we didn’t really know much about at the beginning of the season,” said captain Koster.

“We wanted to give them an opportunity to play and see what they’ve got. The first four weeks we learnt a lot about our squad and about individuals.

“The last two games we’ve really tried to build a bit of continuity. Against the British Police we did pretty well, and then for the first half against Richmond we were really good, the second half we slipped a little bit, mainly just out of ill-discipline.

“We got dominated at the set-piece a little bit so that’s definitely a work-on for us going forward.

“In terms of application in defence, I’m really pleased with that. I think we probably had the ball for 20 per cent of that game and for most of the game we were in it.”

There have been plenty of positives from the matches so far, and as Koster alluded to, the defence in the first half of the 33-7 defeat at Richmond Vikings was impressive.

They were up against a physically superior Vikings side, who heaped the pressure on the students’ set piece, but while back pedalling, their exit plays on their own line, led by Koster, were very good.

It will give them plenty of heart moving forwards, and helps them add to the encouraging parts of their play in the 28-14 win over British Police.

“We’ve got to try to take the good from each game and the work-ons, and try to keep building so with each game try to get better,” said Koster.

“In the first four games, a lot of individuals improved with how they played but as a team we probably didn’t progress that much just because we made a lot of changes.

“The last two games I think we’ve really kicked on as a team. We have four games left and it’s really important that we make sure we take the learnings from each game into the next and we keep improving as a unit.”

The system of ‘pre-season’ matches has certainly worked, as some who may have been outsiders to earn a Blue at the start of the term have put their case forward and others within the squad have really stepped up to the mark.

Jordan Eriksen has come back to add a huge amount to the second row, while the likes of George Cook and Oliver Gnodde have emerged from within the club to stake their claim.

With a lack of more experienced players coming into the squad, Koster could hardly have asked for more.

“We’ve got a young team. We didn’t have any postgraduates join us this year so we’ve got a lot of undergraduates, and guys are really stepping up,” said the skipper, who has played in the back row so far this season.

“They are learning a lot and they are really applying themselves. We’re basing our whole game on work ethic and effort, and I think that’s been excellent in every single game we’ve played so far.”

The Light Blues won 45-14 against the Pacific Islanders on Wednesday, and next up is the visit of Trinity College Dublin on Tuesday, November 6; a home clash with Crawshays on Wednesday, November 13 and the annual Steele-Bodger XV game on Wednesday, November 20.

“There’s some good games to go, and I can’t believe we’re more than halfway through the season already – it’s a pretty scary prospect,” said Koster.

“In the last two seasons we’ve have really kicked on in the last phase before the Varsity Match so we will try to do that again this year.”

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