Andrew Henderson touches down twice as Cambridge beat Bishop's Stortford in National League One
Cambridge earned a deserved and impressive bonus-point 36-27 win at Bishop's Stortford in National League One.
Expectations among the home supporters in the crowd of 825 were high after Andy Long's side's thrilling 42-40 win at Plymouth Albion in their National League 1 opener seven days ago, while Cambridge had started the campaign with a 36-32 home defeat to Rams.
With Nick Hankin absent, Mike Ayrton – playing with brother James against their old club following their summer switch to Silver Leys – moved from the wing to full back and Joss Linney came in. It was the only change among the Stortford 20 who started in Devon.
Cambridge made four changes with Ben Adams making a return to the club from Coventry at No 8, Alex Rayment also starting in the back row, Fin Creighton getting the nod at scrum-half and Ned Brown in the centres.
Despite taking an early lead with the first try of the match, a disappointing performance from the hosts in the first half saw them fortunate to make the break only three points behind, as their forwards were made to struggle at both scrum and lineout.
Cambridge handling errors and an early gifted interception try by them to their former player, centre James Ayrton, largely accounted for the narrow margin.
Some uncharacteristically weak home tackling contributed towards good tries for the visitors by Andrew Henderson and Ciaran Moore after 26 and 32 minutes respectively.
Stortford finally produced an incisive backs move with first-half time running out, with Mike Ayrton finishing off out wide.
At the break, only a Rhodri Adamson penalty after 22 minutes separated the two sides.
Stortford started the second period sloppily and a charged-down clearance kick bounced kindly for George Bretag-Norris to touch down with only three minutes gone.
The next 25 minutes belonged almost entirely to the visitors, despite the home scrum performing much better with Seb Brownhill on at tighthead.
Two more tries duly ensued, as Stortford appeared visibly to wilt, with Rayment and Henderson the scorers after 52 and 67 minutes.
Almost miraculously, the home side rallied in the last 10 minutes, dominating possession, but finding the Cambridge defence hard to break down.
Tries from Will Roberts and Jake Spivey on 75 and 78 minutes nevertheless resulted, but Cambridge were deserved winners.
Bishop's Stortford: M Ayrton, Duff, Winter (c), J Ayrton, Linney, Burr, Coleman; Roberts, Caulfield, Nel, Apperley, Lewis, Wilson, Elsom, Kingham. Replacements: King, Brownhill, Ball, Keen, Spivey.
Cambridge: Adamson, Henderson, Hema, Brown, Martin, Tarrant, Creighton; Rukhadze, Mayhew, Peck, Bretag-Norris, Conquest, Moore, Rayment, Adams. Replacements: Meek, Baxter, Rawlings, Penfold, Patrick.
Bishop’s Stortford – Tries: J Ayrton 2, M Ayrton 38, Roberts 75, Spivey 78. Cons: Burr 3, J Ayrton 76. Pen: Burr 39.
Cambridge – Tries: Henderson 26 & 67, Moore 32, Bretag-Norris 43, Rayment 52. Cons: Adamson 27, 44, 53, 68. Pen: Adamson 22.
Referee: Jonathan Cook. Star Man: Alex Rayment, Cambridge. Attendance: 825.