Cambridge are upended at home by Caldy
Games of few openings at Volac Park
Unlocking the door of the Caldy defence was a task beyond Cambridge as they suffered a 15-6 home defeat in National League One.
In a tactical encounter, it would be fair to say that the visitors did a number on their Volac Park hosts to take the victory with them back to the North West.
It was by no means a polished display by either team, but Cambridge were given a taste of the medicine that they had dished out to Plymouth Albion and Ampthill in their previous matches.
Caldy had a rigid defensive structure, produced arguably one of the best scrummaging performances at Cambridge this season and were then able to seize on their chances when they were created.
All in all, it was quite a passive afternoon for Cambridge, as, while their defence by and large stood up to the test, they did not offer enough as an attacking force.
Too often they found themselves trying to tunnel a route down the middle of the pitch, and it was crying out for Cambridge to add width and a change of direction to their game.
It was a bit too lateral, and without another depth to their attack, that creative spark or bit of ingenuity, it was food and drink to a Caldy defence that were canny at the breakdown in order to slow down play.
The scrum has been one of Cambridge’s strengths all season, but they had met their match as they were unable to push Caldy off their ball and, equally, were unable to make much ground on their own put-in.
With conditions favouring the side playing towards the car park end at Volac Park, it was unsurprising to see Cambridge have the territorial upper hand in the first half, and yet, all they had to show for it was two Ben Penfold penalties.
There were a couple of occasions where Cambridge applied pressure in the 22, but you never really sensed they were going to force their way over the try-line as, collectively, their decision making all afternoon was not what it has been.
Caldy seemed content in defence, and some vital turnovers at the breakdown allowed them to play their way out – the only criticism in the first half would be that they did not seem as composed in possession as they did without the ball.
Having trailed 6-0 at half time, what Caldy were able to do after the break was make their possession count.
They were trying to stretch the play in order to disrupt the Cambridge defence, and were having varying degrees of success at different points.
After 50 minutes, Josiah Dickinson appeared to slalom his way through three attempted tackles to touch down for the visitors, and Ben Jones landed the conversion to give Caldy a 7-6 lead.
Seven minutes later, Jones, who had exhibited a good amount of control on the game at half-back with Rhys Hayes, kicked a penalty to make it 10-6.
The final score came late in the game as from the back of a five-metre scrum, Jones got the ball wide for Hayes to dart into the corner to touch down.
Caldy were worthy winners on a day when Cambridge were really hoping to earn victory to mark Darren Fox’s 100th appearance for the club and the last game for Albert Portsmouth, who after eight seasons is going to play rugby in Australia.
Cambridge: M Ayrton; Stanway, Portsmouth, Hema, Elvers; Penfold, Keenan; Morley, Griffiths, Moynihan, Peters, Conquest, Fox, Laxton, McCloud.
Replacements: Bretag-Norris (Fox, 53), Lewis (Penfold, 54), Emery (Stanway, 62), Rayment (Laxton, 68), Meek (Moynihan, 70), Fox (Peters, 75).
Caldy: Roberts; Banks, Doyle, D Jones, Hibberd; Hayes, B Jones; Whittaker, Hearn, Salisbury, Gerrard, Sanders, Collister, Crowe, Dickinson.
Replacements: Concu (Whittaker, 33), Weir (Gerrard, 58), Stagg (Hearn, 62), Whittaker (Concu, 62), Otutaha (Doyle, 64), Concu (Salisbury, 79), Dixon (D Jones, 79).
Scorers: 10min Penfold pen (3-0), 32 Penfold pen (6-0), 50 Dickinson try – Jones con (6-7), 57 Jones pen (6-10), 78 Hayes try (6-15).
Referee: Philip Davies.