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Cambridge colts gear up for challenge of West Park Leeds in quarter-final of the RFU 2021/22 National Under-18s Boys’s Cup

Reeve Brighty offloading to Ashton Webb for Cambridge colts. Picture: Bob Coote (54745906)
Reeve Brighty offloading to Ashton Webb for Cambridge colts. Picture: Bob Coote (54745906)

Sam Miller believes that the best is yet to come from Cambridge colts prepare to face West Park Leeds in the quarter-finals of the RFU 2021/22 National Under 18s Boys' Cup.

The youngsters will take to the main pitch at Grantchester Road this Sunday (February 13, kick off 1pm) with the ambition of creating dreams that could last a lifetime.

Cambridge have won four matches in the national event to reach this stage of the competition, the latest being a nail-biting 24-23 win over Bury St Edmunds in the last 16.

“We’ve got a decent size squad about 35 which means the numbers in training are good, there is competition for places,” said Miller, the team’s head coach.

“We combined the under-18s and under-17s which is brilliant actually because it means they were playing separately all the time growing up through Cambridge and by combining it seems to have worked quite nicely.

“We’ve also got quite a good link with the Vipers which obviously Richie runs at the club. A few of those boys have joined the club as well this year, and they’ve been brilliant.

“They train every day up at Impington and have fitted in at the club pretty well.

“It’s worked quite nicely. We’ve got big numbers, competition for places, a good young group coming through, and chipping away at the heels of the older lads.

“We’ve got a very nice balance a - strong forward pack and some skilful backs.”

Cambridge director of rugby Richie Williams has run some sessions with the colts, and has also given Miller assistance, while one of the players has trained with the first-team squad.

Prior to the victory over Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge had defeated Ampthill 21-18 in the first round, Huntingdon 26-7 in the second round and Bishop’s Stortford 21-13 in the third round.

“By focusing on yourselves you get excited,” said Miller.

“We don’t want to get carried away but we’ve beaten some good teams to get here and we know that actually we’ve probably not put our best performance down yet and there is definitely a lot we can improve on.

“That’s what I think the boys are most excited about. Credit to them, they are a pretty mature bunch of 18 year olds and I think they are aware if they win on Sunday what that means and the opportunities they’ve got.

“Once they all leave and go to university or whatever it disbands so it’s a nice way to round it off as some of them have played together for 10 years.”

As for the opposition, West Leeds Park, they are a bit of an unknown quantity.

They have beaten York (43-5), Selby (57-7) and Tynedale (27-19) to reach this stage, and while videos of some of their matches exist, Miller is making sure that Cambridge just concentrate on themselves.

“It’s anyone’s game,” he said. “We’ve just got to trust what we’ve done all season. We’ve got some good players, they’re playing well and we’re focusing on ourselves.

“There is no point worrying about what they will bring.

“You’ve got no idea about any of their players, the squad and it could be a completely different team you face, so we’re ignoring that and concentrating on ourselves.”

Miller is unsure of when Cambridge last reached the quarter-finals, let alone the semi-finals, and is hoping that a bumper crowd will turn up at Volac Park to cheer the team on.

“The 1pm kick off on a Sunday is pretty deliberate so it is the end of mini and youth [matches and training] at the club," he added:

“The bar will be open, there is food and we’re hoping for a pretty decent crowd again.”

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