Cambridge attacking flair is too much for Hull Ionians
Matt Hema scores two in try feast
Delight in scoring nine tries with flowing rugby or muse over the dilemma of easy tries against, it is a quandary that faced Cambridge after their 57-31 win over Hull Ionians.
The ease with which they carved open their opposition at Volac Park was a joy to watch as they scored some superb tries - some Premiership clubs could do with learning a thing or two from Cambridge about keeping the ball alive.
But nagging away at the back of the mind is the points that they conceded and the ease in which they were surrendered.
It is in the DNA of Cambridge to keep the ball moving and to run at their opponents, and they did just that in a blistering first half.
The fulcrum to that attacking intent seemed to be fly-half Jack Green, who coaxed and cajoled those outside him.
The No 10 was holding a flatter line, and had no hesitation in moving possession, while also using an intelligent kicking game to nudge the ball in behind Hull, forcing them to turn and start again from deep, either in open play or from a line-out.
And Green also had a hand in possibly the try of the day, although there were plenty from which to choose, as he took play to the gain line in the 22 before neatly off-loading to George Furbank, who drew the last man for Cameron Ruddock to score, leaving Hull with no answer to the speed and delicate nature of the play.
That was the fifth of six tries in the first half for Cambridge, and it was a mixture of patience, power and flamboyance that helped them create their lead, with Matt Hema getting two, Furbank and Tom Trotter scoring one apiece and the forwards earning a penalty try.
So, what about the defence? Well, the main criticisms go hand in hand with each other – a few too many penalties at the break down allowed Hull to kick for touch and that brought into play the catch and drive.
Lee Millar caught the eye for Hull at fly-half, and his work with the boot helped manoeuvre his side into some good positions.
Those penalties in the middle of their own half are doing so much damage to Cambridge, but not as much as the rolling mauls from the subsequent line-outs.
A hat-trick of tries from Hull hooker Alistair Thomson tells you all you need to know about the impact of the catch and drive, as, for the second week in a row, Cambridge just could not stop their opponents once they got up a head of steam from the line-out.
It is an area that will certainly need attention in the coming weeks as otherwise it may become an Achilles heel that other sides seek to exploit.
And Cambridge will also need to make sure that they do not come out of the changing room at the start of the second half as dozily as they did against Hull.
From a dominant position, they nearly contrived to throw it away as a fired up Hull cut the deficit to 38-31, which gave encouragement to Ionians prop Alexander Forth to tell his team-mates “we’re going to win this, we’re going to win this” as they waited for the restart after 62 minutes.
It took a big win against the head at the scrum in the 70th minute to waken Cambridge from their slumber.
The congratulations for the front row and pack that followed seemed to be a galvanising force – almost as if it had given them some breathing space – and they went on to go and score three more tries, through Stefan Liebenberg, Albert Portsmouth and Lawrence Hutchinson.
So it ended up being a well-deserved win for Cambridge, with some entertaining rugby but not without its anxious moments.
Cambridge: Furbank; Hema, Ayrton, White, Portsmouth; Green, Trotter; Langley, Ruddock, Seal, Moon, Bretag-Norris, Laxton, Johnson, McCloud.
Replacements: Nutley (Johnson, 57), Griffiths (Ruddock, 58), Liebenberg (Trotter, 58), Jones (Seal, 67), Hutchinson (White, 69), Johnson (Laxton, 75).
Hull Ionians: Prell; Wilson, Humberston, Allott, Tai Sen Choy; Millar, Boxhall; Laverick, Thomson, Johnson, Makin, Cotterill, Foden, Oliver, Cowen.
Replacements: Bainbridge (Oliver, 41), Green (Boxhall, 52), Oliver (Cowen, 52), Forth (Johnson, 58), Cowen (Foden, 75), Johnson (Laverick, 75), Smith (Wilson, 76), Stout (Thomson, 80).
Referee: Shane Lewis.
Scorers: 4min Furbank try (5-0), 7 Millar pen (5-3), 11 Trotter try – Green con (12-3), 14 Thomson try – Millar con (12-10), 20 penalty try – Green con (19-10), 25 Hema try (24-10), 29 Thomson try – Millar con (24-17), 33 Ruddock try – Green con (31-17), 39 Hema try – Green con (38-17), 48 Thomson try – Millar con (38-24), 61 Millar try – Millar con (38-31), 74 Liebenberg try – Green con (45-31), 78 Portsmouth try (50-31), 80+7 Hutchinson try – Green con (57-31).