Cambridge set for physical battle with Cinderford in National League One
Richie Williams is bracing Cambridge for a physical test against early National League One pacesetters Cinderford at Volac Park this Saturday (September 21, kick off 3pm).
Back-to-back bonus-point wins have put the Forest of Dean outfit top of the fledgling table with maximum points, and you always know what to expect from the Gloucestershire side.
“It’s pretty clear how they have played the first two games this season and how they played last season,” said Cambridge director of rugby Williams.
“They have a really physical pack, good scrummaging front row, two heavy second rows.
“They had a comfortable win up in Sale in the first game and then a good win at home to Plymouth last week.
“It will be quite similar to the Rams game, as they had a strong pack, but I think Cinderford will bring something a little bit different to us this week.
“Our message to the players is that we need to back up that performance against Stortford, that is our motivation moving forwards.”
Cambridge head into the match in good heart after the 36-27 success at Bishop’s Stortford last week, with a second try bonus point in a row and a new approach with an extra training session a week reaping early rewards.
“We’ve had two good training sessions this week,” said Williams. “We do Mondays as well as Tuesdays and Thursdays and that’s starting to have some benefits to the players.
“We’re able to work with a smaller group of players on a Monday and really focus on skill development and individual stuff which is going to help long-term with the players that we have.
“We’ve got to select a side that we think can cope and negate Cinderford's threat, but I’m of the opinion we still want to play our style of rugby and find ways that we can target their strengths.
“We’re not going to beat them physically so we’ve got to look at parts of the game against Stortford where we kept possession and played with a bit more width. It’s about being pragmatic.”
Cambridge are waiting for David Langley to pass the return-to-play protocol after his concussion before naming their squad for Saturday.
Jake McCloud had a scan on the ankle injury suffered in the defeat to Rams, and it revealed some ligament damage that may require an operation.
He looks set to be out for six to eight weeks, but Williams said: “As strange as it sounds, it may give Jake some good to have a few weeks away from rugby.
“He started a new job during the summer and was carrying a few bumps and bruises going into the start of the season, so maybe having six to eight weeks off it could refresh him and almost be like having a new player coming back when he is fully fit again.”
Ben Ibrahim remains sidelined with a ruptured bicep suffered playing for East Midlands last spring, and fellow prop Jack Culverhouse is out with sciatica.