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Cambridge unable to put the skids under Coventry

Cambridge try scorer James Ayrton
Cambridge try scorer James Ayrton

No joy for hosts against the leaders

Anybody walking away from Volac Park on Saturday afternoon cannot have failed to be impressed by Coventry and the way they put Cambridge to the sword.

It was a 40-7 win for the National League One leaders, and they really did prove good value for both the score and the success in a match that had the feel of development versus destiny – Cambridge’s youngsters still learning their game against Coventry’s experienced squad eager to return to the Championship.

And that goal would appear to be well within reach.

It was not just the win that caught the eye, but the way that Coventry played the game, it was all about speed.

Breakdowns felt at a premium as the visitors seemed intent on keeping the ball alive, and they then moved possession along the line at great pace.

Also, their defence was so quick off the line that it was shutting down Cambridge’s opportunities long before they even got going – and in both aspects, that intensity will no doubt serve them well as the season progresses.

But what of the hosts?

It may sound strange to say, but Cambridge may well feel disappointed with their performance.

One of the major points when you face the best around is that you cannot afford to give away something for nothing, and in the first half, that is perhaps what they did.

There were a couple of easy outs for Coventry, and a number of passes that were not sticking, and while that is only natural, it was the way in which they adjusted that could maybe have been better.

To go a bit tighter and maintain possession could have been a better option, which would have challenged Coventry to attempt to turn them over rather than the minor errors that ceded the ball.

However, there were bright spots that Cambridge should certainly look to take forward.

The scrum more than held its own against a vastly more experienced pack, and could feel a little hard done by not to get more reward at times.

And the line-out also functioned well, and against a less defensively able opposition there may have been more riches on offer for the work.

As it was though, the opening try came for Coventry from a line-out, as Scott Tolmie was alert to a pass on the inside to take a pass on the blind-side to score.

The second try followed as Cambridge were penalised for pulling down a rolling maul on the line.

Anthony Matoto got the ball down in the corner in the 26th minute, and former Cambridge full-back James Stokes scored two minutes later, passing to Tom Emery on halfway before carrying on the break to get the try. And Will Maisey added all the conversions to make it 28-0 after 28 minutes.

Cambridge gathered their thoughts though, and there were no more scores before half time.

There was a greater attacking emphasis to Cambridge’s attacking play in the second half, and they made a number of line breaks but were only able to finish off one.

However, by that point Max Trimble had exploited an overlap to score on the wing for Coventry and a great burst by Heath Stevens had finished with play recycled for Phil Nilsen to touch down.

The final word went to Cambridge though as Lawrence Hutchinson broke through from halfway, and he drew the last man to put in James Ayrton.

The try was converted by Jack Green, and you could see the standards that Coventry have set themselves as there was a level of disappointment as it was the first points they had conceded in three matches.

Cambridge: M Ayrton; Hutchinson, Portsmouth, Hema, Petrides; Penfold, Keenan; Ibrahim, Griffiths, Moynihan, Peters, Conquest, Onojaife, Britton, Nutley.

Replacements: Fox (Peters, 40+7min), Petrides (J Ayrton, 56), Ruddock (Nutley, 56), Peck (Ibrahim, 61), Green (Penfold, 65).

Coventry: Stokes; Matoto, Stevens, Tuitupou, Emery; Maisey, Brazier; Titchard-Jones, Tolmie, Litchfield, Dacres, Oram, Makaafi, Preece, Daynes.

Replacements: Narraway (Oram, 11), Boulton (Titchard-Jones, 33), Trimble (Brazier, 47), Dingwall (Matoto, 62), Matoto (Makaafi, 73).

Scorers: 11 Tolmie try – Maisey con (0-7), 18 penalty try (0-14), 26 Matoto try – Maisey con (0-21), 28 Stokes try – Maisey con (0-28), 55 Trimble try (0-33), 72 Nilsen try – Maisey con (0-40), 79 J Ayrton try – Green con (7-40).

Sin bin: Cambridge – Fox (foul play, 58).

Red card: Coventry – Tuitupou (foul play, 58).

Referee: Thomas Davis.


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