Alex Rayment calls on Cambridge to push on ahead of clash with Rosslyn Park in National League One
Alex Rayment has urged Cambridge to back up their bonus-point 29-15 win over Darlington Mowden Park in their next step to National League One safety.
The hooker was the sponsors’ man of the match after a barnstorming performance that was capped off with the opening try after just four minutes.
Rayment was dominant in the loose and got through a large amount of work at the breakdown as well but it was his try that encapsulated their display, as they came out all guns blazing.
“It’s massive. We haven’t put a performance out like that all season,” said Rayment.
“We knew we had the talent here to do it, and the belief, and I think finally we’ve done that for the crowd who were absolutely amazing. We couldn’t have done it without them.
“It’s the weakness with us that we don’t get revved up like we say we will to come out firing. We did that and Darlington didn’t really know what had hit them from the off.
“We were under pressure at times but our defence was epic as well as our attack and we scored four tries which hasn’t been done much this season, which is great.”
One of the endearing features of the performance was the support play, with all the tries well created through patience, running rugby and off-loads.
Rayment’s effort was added to by ones from Gillian Benoy, Fin Creighton and Mike Ayrton, while Ben Penfold kicked nine points.
“We know we’re a fit squad, we’ve just got to get on the end of those balls,” said Rayment.
“There’s a fine line between a good off-load and one we shouldn’t have thrown. Today, we got that right and what’s good is that we got in behind them, and then we punished them.
“We probably left a couple of tries out there, but let’s not worry about that.”
Attention turns next to an away game at third-placed Rosslyn Park this Saturday (April 6).
“Every player in the squad, not only the first team but the second team, we push each other and that was coming and I’m glad it’s come now,” said Rayment.
“We know we’re at the wrong end of the table, and we’re better than that but it means nothing now – we’ve got to go and put in a performance at Rosslyn Park to push on and we will be fine.
“We’ve got to back it up because it means nothing if we don’t go and perform in the next three games. Then we can talk at the end of the season to push on.”
Rayment was not the only one who caught the eye though.
The back row players Benoy, Louis Rawlings, Ciaran Moore and Jake McCloud looked sharp and played with more freedom.
Creighton was particularly impressive at scrum-half, on his full home debut, and Joey Patrick’s incisive running at full-back to target space was another bonus.
“I thought there were loads of positives,” said Cambridge director of rugby Richie Williams.
“I thought Fin Creighton was fantastic, really energised our attack and Alex Rayment in the loose was barnstorming.
“Joey came to the club from Old Northamptonians last year so was playing level seven rugby and is another one we have invested a lot of our time in.
“He is nowhere near his potential yet, but he is growing in that role and is only 19 and is one we have secured for next season and the season after.
“He is exciting but I thought Mikey Ayrton had his best game of the season, Joey Green worked really well off the ball and to have someone like Josh (Lewanituva) off the bench, I thought it gave us a really nice balance in the back three.”
Williams added: “I hope that performance has given us a bit more confidence that when we do move the ball into those 15m channels we have the players to cause problems to the opposition defence.”
He also admitted that support play has been a focus for the squad in recent weeks, and was pleased with the development they have made, although it remains a work in progress.
“I think it’s been something in the last three to four weeks that we’ve worked on and we’ve probably not seen it in the games prior to today,” said Williams.
“We generated a little bit quicker ball at the breakdown, and the players worked a little bit harder to get in behind the ball carrier and I think some of the tries we scored were a result of that energy in attack to support the ball carrier.”
The win was even more important for Cambridge as Esher and Loughborough Students, two of three teams below them in the relegation places, also earned bonus-point wins.