Cambridge undone in second-half spell by Birmingham Moseley
Hosts made to rue five-minute spell
Bittersweet is the only way to encapsulate not just the result but the performance as Cambridge were beaten 39-30 by Birmingham Moseley in National League One.
On a five-match losing run and facing one of the top-five sides in the division, it may have been that a try bonus point would have been the best Cambridge would have wished for before the game.
But having put that into the bag, they probably headed back into the changing room pondering what might have been as if you take the positives first, they more than held their own in the game.
The scrum and line-out both functioned really well and for the majority of the game prevented Moseley from getting some dominant possession from the set piece.
With such a marked difference in physical stature, it showed the technical ability of Cambridge as it would have been quite easy to believe they would be shoved off the ball or put on the backfoot.
And they were fierce and competitive at the breakdown, winning a fair share of turnovers and again denying Moseley any easy possession, while on the front foot they were working hard with their continuity against opponents that seldom let a player escape from their clutches.
But now to the negatives and what can only be described as a horror show for 10 minutes.
No team in this league need any encouragement to score tries, particularly those in the top five, so it was like a parting of the waves for the visitors in a spell that started just before half time, and continued after the break.
It was hard to watch from the hosts’ perspective as an awful period saw them concede 19 points in five second-half minutes, made even worse by the fact that Moseley had a player in the sin bin as the score went from 13-8 to 32-8.
Free running has become a vogue sport in recent times, and here was a new version displayed in all its finery at Volac Park.
Missed and high tackles were the bane of Cambridge’s existence during the period, and it will no doubt haunt the coaching staff as there really is very little they can do about it – being harsh, they are simple skills that just need to be executed well.
So in all fairness, Moseley were probably handed five of their six tries on a plate and while they were the deserved winners, Cambridge will wonder what might have been if they had not had that spell and been able to produce for the full 80.
They made the perfect start as Dan Lewis landed a penalty after a minute, but Moseley responded three minutes later with a kick from James Williams.
The visitors edged ahead when Drew Cheshire broke clear just inside the Cambridge half and then threw a dummy to the supporting winger to run in to touch down.
But good work from Cambridge saw them respond thanks to a looping pass wide by Stefan Liebenberg to Oli Petrides, who in turn put in Alex Moon to score in the corner for 8-8.
James Burgoyne was sin-binned on Moseley’s own line on 37 minutes, but rather than make them pay, within a minute Cambridge had conceded a second try on the counter as Williams broke clear and when tackled just short of the line, popped up a pass for Alex Grove to touch down for 13-8 at half time.
Then came the awful spell for the hosts.
Moseley did well to set up a catch and drive from a line-out that Chris Brightwell dotted down for try No 3 after 42 minutes.
Then on 45 minutes, Ed Sheldon was given the freedom of the pitch from halfway to run back a box kick to score and two minutes later, Grove broke from halfway and somehow managed to make it all the way to the line.
The game had raced out of sight for Cambridge, but they then rediscovered the composure that had served them so well in the first half.
Tom Fidler was sin-binned for Moseley, and a catch and drive from the resulting penalty ended with Tom Nutley going over for the hosts.
Jacques Le Roux was sin-binned for Moseley, but in that 10 minutes against 13, Cambridge were unable to add to their tally.
However, Liebenberg set up Gareth Baxter on a good line to get Cambridge’s third try after 69 minutes.
It was Moseley who got the next try though, as Sheldon had too much time to break clear and he had William Crane in support to touch down.
Cambridge were chasing a fourth try to earn a bonus point, and that came when James Ayrton kicked through and Mike Ayrton hacked on and won the race to the bouncing ball to touch down.
And the hosts had the final say when they turned over a line-out and Dan Seal dived on the ball for the try.
Cambridge: Leathem; Portsmouth, Hema, Petrides, M Ayrton; Lewis, Liebenberg; Seal, Griffiths, Langley, Moon, Baxter, Rawlings, Laxton, Nutley.
Replacements: Reeves (Seal, 35), Read (Rawlings, 49), Ruddock (Griffiths, 53), J Ayrton (Petrides, 61), Furbank (Lewis, 63), Seal (Langley, 71).
Moseley: Sheldon; Cheshire, King, Molenaar, Baffour-Awuah; Williams, Brazier; Burgoyne, Crane, Fidler, Oram, Crofts, Hone, Preece, Brightwell.
Replacements: Pailor (Hone, 23), Grove (Molenaar, 33), Le Roux (Oram, 53), Farnworth (Burgoyne, 61),
Sin bin: Moseley – Burgoyne (technical offence, 37), Fidler (technical offence, 51), Le Roux (foul play, 55),
Scorers: 1min Lewis pen (3-0), 4 Williams pen (3-3), 23 Cheshire try (3-8), 30 Moon try (8-8), 39 Grove try (8-13), 42 Brightwell try (8-18), 45 Sheldon try – Williams con (8-25), 47 Grove try – Williams con (8-32), 52 Nutley try – Lewis con (15-32), 69 Baxter try (20-32), 76 Crane try – Williams con (20-39), 80 M Ayrton try (25-39), 80+3 Seal try (30-39).
Referee: Philip Davies.