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Cambridge Rugby Club's strength in depth paying dividends as winning National League One start continues





New signing Rian Hamilton provided further evidence of the strength in depth that exists within the Cambridge squad this season in last Saturday’s 39-14 home victory over Taunton Titans.

The winger joined Cambridge in the summer from lower-league Wharfedale but he had to make do with a watching brief during the opening two games.

However, he made the most of his first start against the Titans with two tries to help the hosts make it three victories from as many outings as the start of the new National League One campaign.

Rian Hamilton scores his second try for Cambridge against Taunton Titans. Picture: Chris Fell
Rian Hamilton scores his second try for Cambridge against Taunton Titans. Picture: Chris Fell

Director of rugby Richie Williams said: “Rian has been good in pre-season and I think we’re in a really good position where we’ve got four or five excellent back three players.

“The two players, Joe Green and Dan Brough, that have missed out, they’ve been performing really well, but we felt Rian deserved the opportunity.

“He took his two tries really well so I’m really pleased for him.

Cambridge's Rian Hamilton celebrates after scoring his first try against Taunton Titans on September 17. Picture: Chris Fell
Cambridge's Rian Hamilton celebrates after scoring his first try against Taunton Titans on September 17. Picture: Chris Fell

“I think a lot of it was down to our forward pack who have so far played really well this season and our backs have been the recipients of that.”

And it is the competition for places that Williams is hopeful will help his side pick up victories at key moments in the season.

He added: “There was seven or eight players in the stand today who missed out on selection.

“That was probably an area last season where we didn’t have enough strength in depth and that affected our performances towards the end of the season.

Match action from Cambridge Rugby Club's win over Taunton Titans on September 17. Picture: Chris Fell
Match action from Cambridge Rugby Club's win over Taunton Titans on September 17. Picture: Chris Fell

“A lot of the boys had to play a lot of rugby last year, whereas now, certainly with the back three and some of the front row forwards, we’ll be rotating those a bit more.

“Hopefully that will pay dividends around about the Christmas period but also towards the end of the season as well.”

Having to leave a number of players out each week is not without risk – the fear being that it could lead to frustration and fractions within the dressing room.

However, Williams believes the togetherness that has been created at Volac Park will prevent any disruption from taking hold.

Match action from Cambridge Rugby Club's win over Taunton Titans on September 17. Picture: Chris Fell
Match action from Cambridge Rugby Club's win over Taunton Titans on September 17. Picture: Chris Fell

“It’s one of the challenges of coaching. We’re really fortunate we’ve got a really good group of players that we’re working with,” said the Welshman.

“They support each other whether they’re in the starting team or if they’ve been left out. We’ve built that over the last two or three seasons.

“They build the standards off the field and if they’re not involved in selection, as long as we’re giving them honest feedback as a coaching team, we find that the players respond really well.”

Cambridge’s attention now switches to this weekend’s long journey to Darlington Mowden Park, where Williams’ men will be hunting a fourth win on the bounce at the start of 2022/23.

The Darlington Arena has been a happy hunting ground for Cambridge in recent times and Williams is eager to continue that trend.

“It’s the furthest away trip we’ve had so far and Darlington have started the season well,” he said.

“It’s always a good place to play in that stadium, they play in a big arena and on the last two occasions we’ve been there we’ve played particularly well and picked up two wins.

“For us it’s about another focus because we’ll probably change our game-plan a little bit for the opposition we’re playing but if we can finish next week on a positive note it will be a really, really pleasing start.”



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