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Cambridge Rugby Club geared up for festive National League 1 derby clash against Bishop’s Stortford





Christmas is traditionally the season of goodwill and giving but director of rugby Richie Williams is hoping that his Cambridge players are not in a charitable mood this weekend.

Williams’ men will bring the curtain down on 2022 on Saturday (December 17) when they entertain local rivals Bishop’s Stortford at Volac Park.

A big crowd is expected and Williams is anticipating an entertaining game.

Match action from the reverse fixture with Bishop’s Stortford earlier in the season, which was won by Cambridge. Picture: Vikki Lince
Match action from the reverse fixture with Bishop’s Stortford earlier in the season, which was won by Cambridge. Picture: Vikki Lince

“Stortford are our closest rivals and it’s a derby for both teams,” he said. “History shows that it’s a high-scoring game when we play each other.

“They’re having a good season, probably their best start to a season for a few years.

“They’re always a side that causes us problems and one that we will have to be at our best against to get a good result.

“They’re a very attack minded side that like to give the ball a lot of width. You’d have to say they’re one of those sides that are always an entertaining watch but we like to think we know their weaknesses, we’ve exploited them in recent meetings and we’ll be looking to do the same again this weekend.”

Saturday’s derby will be Cambridge’s first fixture since their draw at Leeds Tykes on December 3, with last weekend’s home clash against basement side Hull having fallen victim to a frozen pitch.

It means that the players have had a bit longer to ponder on the disappointment of losing some ground in the National League 1 title race than Williams would have liked, yet he has been pleased with the reaction from the whole squad.

He added: “We had a very good week of preparation going into the Hull game and so it was disappointing not to play but at the same time it was completely out of our control.

“We were frustrated with our performance against Leeds, it didn’t meet the standards we are capable of.

“We wanted to put it right as quickly as possible but hopefully this bit of extra time has allowed us to fully sharpen our sword, reflect on it and then give a really positive reaction.

“The players have been great. They’ve taken ownership of the Leeds performance during our reviews and they also helped to shape the gameplan we had going into the Hull game.

“They’ve stepped up, worked really hard in training and you can see how keen they are to go out there and get back to winning ways.”

While Cambridge sat out last weekend, table-topping Rams slipped to defeat at Cinderford, meaning they are now level on points with second-placed Sale.

Cambridge are seven points further back in third, with Rosslyn Park in fourth and fifth-placed Cinderford in hot pursuit.

And providing his men can come out with a positive result against sixth-placed Stortford, Williams is pleased with the shape they are in going into 2023.

“I’m really happy overall. We set some targets in the summer, particularly around how we started the season,” he said.

“Last season we lost our first three but this time we took maximum points from the first five or six and it makes such a difference.

“We also wanted to be more competitive away from home and I think our performance at Rosslyn Park (24-22 win) shows we’re on the right track with that as well.

“There has been the odd disappointment, the two defeats and the draw at Leeds which means we’ve got a bit of a gap to make up, but we’re very satisfied and I’m excited about the growth that is to come from the group.

“We’ve still not put together a complete performance yet and to know we’ve still got that to produce in the second half of the season is exciting.”



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