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Cambridge Rugby Club preparing for crunch clash away at National League 1 leaders Sale FC





While nothing will be decided from their trip to Sale FC, director of rugby Richie Williams has challenged his Cambridge side to ‘lay down a marker’ when the sides meet on Saturday (January 21).

National League 1 leaders Sale are 10 points better off than third-placed Cambridge, who have two games in hand on the Greater Manchester outfit.

With 11 fixtures still to play after their trip to Heywood Road, Williams believes that the outcome of this weekend’s encounter will not be season-defining for either team.

Kieran Frost drives forward against Darlington Mowden Park. Picture: Keith Heppell
Kieran Frost drives forward against Darlington Mowden Park. Picture: Keith Heppell

However, he conceded that victory for his players could provide some important momentum for the run-in.

“Given the fact it’s only January and we have those couple of games in hand, there will be a lot of rugby to play after this and so nothing will be decided,” he said.

“But I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a game we are targeting as being very important.

Ben Brownlie goes over for Cambridge during last weekend’s win over Darlington Mowden Park. Picture: Keith Heppell
Ben Brownlie goes over for Cambridge during last weekend’s win over Darlington Mowden Park. Picture: Keith Heppell

“We believe we’ve got the game and the confidence to get a positive outcome, just like we did earlier in the season against them. We’re one of two teams to have beaten them.

“But make no mistake, Sale are a very good side. They’ve won 10 in a row and they were unlucky to not win the league last season.

“It will be tough but we want to lay down a marker and leave ourselves in a positive place going into the last 10 games or so.”

Sale are renowned for being one of the more physical outfits in the division.

Tom Hoppe was among the try scorers for Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Tom Hoppe was among the try scorers for Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

They pose a number of threats to combat, yet Williams feels that matching them up is the best route to a positive result.

He added: “They’re a very settled group with a lot of continuity. They play with a lot of cohesion, they’re very physical and have an abrasive front row.

“Their nine and 10 get good control of the game and I think the best way to deal with it is to fight fire with fire.

“We’ll need to impose our gameplan on them and I think it will be the team that makes the least mistakes that will win.

Kieran Duffin looks to make up some ground for Cambridge against Darlington Mowden Park. Picture: Keith Heppell
Kieran Duffin looks to make up some ground for Cambridge against Darlington Mowden Park. Picture: Keith Heppell

“In such a high pressure game it comes down to keeping the error count down.”

Last Saturday, Cambridge continued their perfect start to the new year with a 34-15 home win over Darlington Mowden Park.

The hosts raced out of the traps at Volac Park and were in front inside 60 seconds when Tom Hoppe touched down and debutant fly-half Matty Arden did the honours with the conversion.

A Matt Minogue penalty got Darlington on the scoreboard shortly after, but Cambridge were soon back in control as Hoppe turned provider for Kwaku Asiedu to score his 15th try of the campaign.

Matthew Arden was among the points on debut. Picture: Keith Heppell
Matthew Arden was among the points on debut. Picture: Keith Heppell

Arden was wayward with the extras on this occasion but he soon made amends, first with a penalty and then by successfully converting Cambridge’s third try of the afternoon, scored by Ben Brownlie.

That sent Williams’ home team into the break 23-3 in front and despite some early second-half pressure from the north-east-based visitors it was Cambridge who were first to get off the mark via Brownlie’s second try of proceedings, which Arden converted.

Cambridge’s fifth try was scored by replacement Willie Priestley, who had entered the action in place of Brownlie, although Steff James hit the post with the conversion.

Late tries from Josh Crickmay and Oli Hodgson were a reward for Darlington’s persistence in the face of a deficit, yet it did little to alter the final outcome as Cambridge ensured their winning form on home soil continued.



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