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Cambridge beat Cinderford but Richie Williams sees plenty to improve on in big game at Rosslyn Park

Cambridge may have returned to winning ways at the weekend, but director of rugby Richie Williams is hoping the performance serves as a ‘wake-up call’ to the players heading into Saturday’s crunch clash at Rosslyn Park.

After winning their opening five matches of the new National League One campaign, the Blood and Sand’s momentum was halted by a defeat at table-topping Rams.

However, they bounced back at the first time of asking at home against Cinderford, running out 40-29 winners to move up to second in the league and just two points behind the leaders. Yet Williams felt the opening 50 minutes from his team left a lot of room for improvement.

Cambridge director of rugby Richie Williams Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge director of rugby Richie Williams Picture: Keith Heppell

He told the Steve Jackson Podcast: “It’s a real strange feeling because we’ve just beaten Cinderford 40-29 and there’s a real air of disappointment from everybody because I feel, certainly in that first 50 minutes, we were second best in a lot of the areas of that game, but it was mainly self-inflicted.

“Our discipline wasn’t where it needed to be and defensively we didn’t make them work hard enough for the tries they scored during the first half. But again, I’ve got to give credit to the team for the way they finished the game. That last quarter is where we won the game. At 62 minutes we were two scores behind and George (Bretag-Norris) had got yellow carded but we found a way to get into that game and that’s a sign of a good side.

“To play as poorly as we did and still get a bonus point win, I’m really satisfied with that.

“It’s another wake-up call ahead of next weekend when we travel to Rosslyn Park.

“There are some harsh lessons for us to take away from today and we’ve actually got to take them away and not just say we’re learning things.

“Some things we didn’t do so well last week (against Rams), we didn’t do well this week and we’re not going to get away with it every week.

“There’s a lot of hard work to do but we’re having this conversation on the back of a bonus point win so it’s not all bad.

“The players put in a really good shift today and I may be doing them a bit of a disservice, but we’re at a point now where we can be open and honest with each other.

“Me saying that wasn’t good enough is probably echoed by all of the players – that sense of disappointment at the end.

“But as I referenced we got five points, we’ve scored 40 again at home and we’ve beaten a team who have won five on the bounce.”

Against Cinderford it was Cambridge that edged in front early on via Joe Tarrant’s try, yet it was the visitors who were largely in the ascendancy during the opening 40 minutes.

Despite this the hosts went into the break 21-17 in front courtesy of further tries from Ben Brownlie and Kieran Frost.

A penalty, try and conversion – all scored by the in-form Michael Austin – was accompanied by a try from William Gilderson to put Cinderford in control in the second half, but Brownlie, a penalty try and one from Stef James saw Cambridge turn it around late on.

This weekend’s opponents Rosslyn Park, who tasted defeat for the first time this term to Rams last weekend, are third in the standings, a couple of points adrift of Cambridge.

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