Cambridge safety out of their hands after defeat to Birmingham Moseley
A lack of urgency has left Cambridge sweating on their National League One status as they suffered a 22-21 defeat to Birmingham Moseley.
Everyone knew victory at Volac Park would go a long way to securing Cambridge’s position in the division for next season, dependent on results elsewhere.
Instead, they now face an uphill battle to avoid dropping into National League 2S.
The catalyst for the defeat to Moseley was an insipid first half-hour.
In their previous home game against Darlington Mowden Park they came out of the blocks firing, and went on to claim a bonus-point win.
So it is no surprise that there was a call for more of the same against a Birmingham Moseley team who were one place and two points above them in the table.
What was delivered was the polar opposite as there was a lack of intensity and urgency, which meant there was a sparsity of tempo and energy.
In turn, it was giving Moseley the freedom of the pitch - and they were hardly going to turn their noses up at the opportunity to attack.
The problem that Cambridge were finding is that their passes were off and they were not looking after possession well enough, and getting it back from the visitors was almost an impossible task.
In the first half, Moseley were in control when they had possession, almost as if even a tornado would struggle to move them off the ball.
It was not until the 37th minute that there was a bit of a spark about Cambridge’s play, and that was Keifer Laxton’s quick thinking to pick up at a scrum to break to halfway - the problem was that he was isolated as no-one had gone with him.
By that point, Moseley were 14-0 ahead.
Their first try came in the 10th minute as Adam Moloney touched down in the corner after a period of double-digit phases where they maintained patience and composure to pile the pressure on the hosts. James Williams landed the extras.
On 30 minutes, Williams made a simple break in midfield, stepping his opponent to burst through from halfway to score under the posts and convert his own try.
It was 19-0 after 39 minutes as Cambridge contrived to turn attack into a length-of-the-field break from Moseley through several missed tackles, with the play ending in Robert Lewis going over in the corner.
There was a glimmer of hope for Cambridge on the stroke of half time as some good work along the line led to Mike Ayrton passing to Gillian Benoy, who handed off an opponent to go round the outside for a try, which Ben Penfold converted.
The hosts had a bit more about them in the second half, but it still took them a good 20 minutes to get their game fully up and running.
A catch and drive from a line-out in the 63rd minute led to them hitting the line, and Alex Rayment eventually burst through a gap to touch down, with Penfold’s conversion reducing the arrears to 19-14.
They looked to have shot themselves in the foot in the 76th minute as Williams landed a penalty that went over off the post, taking them eight points clear.
Hope had not gone though as Benoy brilliantly claimed the restart to put Cambridge on the attack. He was stopped just short of the line, but the hosts earned a penalty and, from the subsequent play, Jake McCloud touched down through a bundle of bodies and Lawrence Rayner converted.
There was one point in it, and Cambridge were then awarded a penalty just inside the Moseley half.
However, Rayner failed to find touch with his kick, depriving Cambridge of field position and giving the visitors the ball.
Some great controlled play from Moseley, using their forwards to maintain possession, helped them see out the win to guarantee their own safety.
As for Cambridge, with Caldy beating Rosslyn Park, they have dropped into the third and final relegation place.
Their final game of the season is away to Sale FC on April 27, and they must get at least a win and hope that Caldy fail to pick up anything away at Birmingham Moseley.
Cambridge: Green; M Ayrton, Petrides, J Ayrton, Hema; Penfold, Creighton; Peck, Ruddock, Higgins, Bretag-Norris, Baxter, Benoy, Laxton, McCloud.
Replacements: Rayment (Ruddock, 40+3), Patrick (Petrides, 47), Fox (Baxter, 47), Ibrahim (Peck, 64), Rayner (Penfold, 73).
Birmingham Moseley: Penn; Moloney, Williams, Lewis, Pointon; Hollingsworth, Brown; Wrafter, Roach, Fidler, Crofts, Bean, Cowen, Poole, Brightwell.
Replacements: Tideswell (Wrafter, 19), Le Roux (Bean, 67), Caves (Roach, 73).
Referee: Philip Davies.
Scorers: 11min Moloney try - Williams con (0-7), 31 Williams try - Williams con (0-14), 40 Lewis try (0-19), 40+3 Benoy try - Penfold con (7-19), 63 Rayment try - Penfold con (14-19), 76 Williams pen (14-22), 77 McCloud try - Rayner con (21-22).