Cambridge University cruise to win over Cambridge Wanderers in Town v Gown
An eleven-try blitz saw Cambridge University defeat Cambridge Wanderers 65-7 in the Town v Gown clash at Grange Road.
There were ominous signs from as early on and, as a contest, the game did end up becoming a bit one-way traffic, particularly through the middle two-quarters.
Cambridge had selected a very young side, particularly in the forwards, with just a smattering of players with first-team experience this season.
But there were also multiple changes in the university team, with six players brought into the team that were beaten by Bishop’s Stortford, with former England fly-half Toby Flood and current England under-20 international Jamie Benson among those missing.
The most telling aspect though, was the difference that an extra 10 days made for the Light Blues.
The Stortford fixture came at an early stage of the Lent Term, and it did tell at times, but this performance showed the increased cohesion which comes through more time on the training ground.
It is not so much about results for the Light Blues but making incremental improvements along the way to facing Oxford in the Varsity Match at Twickenham, which this academic year falls on April 2.
The line-out was far smoother in its functioning than against Stortford, and it was a factor in getting front-foot ball.
The opportunities for off-loads and slick play along the backs was far greater as well, with the line-breaks far more numerous than in their previous match.
Analysing the play too deeply is difficult though as Cambridge’s team was so young and did just struggle to get any sort of possession in which to feed their backs, which is where more of their players with first-team experience was located.
The second row is growing as an area of force for the Light Blues. Matt West was in for the unavailable Charlie Friend and together with Zac Bischoff they were prominent at the breakdown, but they were ably supported by the back row of former skipper Stephen Leonard, Scotland under-20 international Archie Smeaton and Dan Montesino Jones.
With that combination, you could see why getting any sort of ball was problematic for Cambridge.
The first try came in the 12th minute, while the Town's Alex Chabala was in the sin bin, as a catch and drive led to Montesino Jones crossing the line, and the lead was increased while the Light Blues still had an extra man, as Smeaton bounced his way through off several attempted tackles to score. Alex King’s conversion made it 12-0.
Cambridge fought back to pressurise the hosts and although they were unable to get any sort of field position outside their own half, they at least stemmed the flow of points for nearly 20 minutes.
But there was a quick try double before the break.
Leonard had a glimpse of some space and made a dart for it, skipping away from a number of tackles to run free over the line. King landed the extras.
Four minutes later, scrum-half Charles Favell had made a break and, having been tackled, did well to present clean ball for Sam Odu to pick up and burst clear to touch down, with the conversion making it 26-0 at the break.
The floodgates had been opened, and the university got into free flow at the start of the second half.
Leonard got the first try of the period after a spell of the students hitting the line, and then Max Loveridge made a break straight down the middle of the pitch to touch down, and King converted.
Ikechi Mere had been on a matter of minutes before he seized possession, after Dougal Russell had been tackled just shy of the line, to touch down to make it 43-0.
A catch and drive in the 63rd minute saw Angus Peters ground the ball for the eighth try, and then Smeaton picked up from the base of a scrum to dot down.
Two minutes later, Cam Millen chipped over the Cambridge defence and Demi Obembe hacked on to score the 10th try.
After a delay for an injury, when play restarted there was some gusto about the Cambridge play as they made incursions into the Light Blues territory.
It earned its rewards as they went through the phases for Corey Lewis to burst clear and touch down, with Scott Lloyd landing the conversion.
But the final say went to the university. It was another catch and drive from a line-out, and it was difficult to distinguish the identity of the try scorer amidst a mass of bodies, however, it looked like Favell had come up holding the ball.
The university will happily take the win, and be pleased to add some more parts to what is a big jigsaw they have to put together in order to face the Dark Blues in the spring.
Cambridge University: King; Russell, Chibale, Odu, Wylie; Loveridge, Favell; Jackson, Wright, Pettitt, West, Bischoff, Montesino Jones, Leonard, Smeaton.
Replacements: Parry, Collins, Peters, Kururangi, Obembe, Walton, Holdroyd, Mere, Millen.
Cambridge Wanderers: Patrick; Beer, Williams, Wand, Collard; Lloyd, Shave; Meadhurst, Lewis, Herbert, Prier, Ramply, Chabala, Strath, N Sloot.
Replacements: Priestley, I Sloot, Curtis, Jones, Green, Belloso.
Scorers: 12min Montesino Jones try (5-0), 16 Smeaton try - King con (12-0), 34 Leonard try - King con (19-0), 38 Odu try - King con (26-0), 46 Leonard try (31-0), 48 Loveridge try - King con (38-0), 52 Mere try (43-0), 52 63 Peters try (48-0), 66 Smeaton try (53-0), 68 Obembe try - Loveridge con (60-0), 80+3 Lewis try - Lloyd con (60-7), 80+7 Favell try (65-7).