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Cambridge hold off spirited late fightback to win National League 1 clash against Esher

Cambridge retained their grip on second spot in the National League 1 standings with a 38-24 victory over Esher on Saturday.

The hosting Blood and Sand were in imperious form during the first half, racking up a total of 30 unanswered points along the way.

However, the visitors from Surrey rallied after the restart and it was not until a try from Kwaku Asiedu in the dying embers that the home faithful was able to rest easy.

Joe Tarrant ran in four tries during Cambridge’s home win over Esher. Picture: Chris Fell
Joe Tarrant ran in four tries during Cambridge’s home win over Esher. Picture: Chris Fell

Reflecting on his side’s performance on the Steve Jackson Podcast, Cambridge’s director of rugby Richie Williams said: “It’s five points, we needed that. After last week we picked up that good result at Rosslyn Park and I thought today that first 40 minutes was really good.

“We did what we sort set out to do. The energy with the ball was really high and when we didn’t have the ball we were disciplined defensively.

“We scored some good tries in that period but for the second week running we’ve not performed in that period in the second half.

“We’ll take a look at ourselves first and ask are we doing something that we probably shouldn’t be doing, but there were moments in that second half – particularly when you’re playing into a strong wind like we were today – we were a little bit loose when we got in good positions to score.

“You’ve got to be good on the ball in conditions like this and I don’t think we did that in that second half.

“(There are) big things to take away but as I say it’s five points and that’s what we set out to do and we achieved that.

“We’ve got to have a bit more desperation about ourselves. It’s hard in any sport when you’re winning as comfortably as we were in that first half, it’s only the elite teams that will go on and push on from that position.

“We’re not quite there yet but the reality is we’re nine games into a season now. It’s an area that we need to get better at because we’ve been in this position a few times in the season where we’ve got off to a real healthy start, led well and then at some point in the game we’ve not been able to nail home that advantage in the second half.

“We’re aware of that, the players are aware of that, and it’s something that we’re focused on going into the next game.”

The star of the show from a Cambridge perspective was Joe Tarrant, who ran in four tries during a rampant first-half display.

And Williams believes he has the ‘best’ full-back in the division at his disposal.

He said: “Taz (Tarrant) is one of those players that when he gets into a bit of form like he is now he’s pretty hard to stop.

“We had to move him to 13 in the second half. That’s not a position he’s played too much rugby in but he didn’t look out of place.

“We’re really grateful to have a player of his sort of talent at the club.

“You forget sometimes that he came to us as a 10, but he’s played a lot of rugby at 15 and for me he’s the best full-back in National 1.”

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