Henry King try double seals Cambridge University win over Birmingham Moseley
First victory of the term for Light Blues
The wait for a win this Michaelmas Term is over for Cambridge University after they sealed a 27-24 triumph over Birmingham Moseley.
Two draws and four defeats did not even begin to tell the tale of the term, but with just four games remaining until the Varsity Match on December 7, a victory was the major requirement.
The necessity for success was not so much about a W in the column, it was to gain the momentum in the build-up to face Oxford.
And that is probably the key point – momentum has been almost impossible to find.
Injuries have swept through the squad, making continuity of selection a mere dream, and it was in evidence again last night with the late withdrawals of Jake Hennessey and Nick Koster.
It must be leaving captain Charlie Amesbury scratching his head with frustration at what might be as the first few games of the season offered such promise.
But the Light Blues have also endured a couple of tough fixtures, against an experienced Northampton Saints side and a trip to Trinity College Dublin, so when assessing their collection of results to date, there have been many mitigating factors.
It is not to say that it all fell into place against Birmingham Moseley, far from it, but elements of their defensive prowess and their clinical finishing at vital times will certainly be something to take forward.
Both sides were living off scraps in the first half, with a real stop-start feel to the game.
Neither team were able to get into full flow, and it felt as if much of the first 40 minutes was spent setting up scrums or line-outs, and the defences meant that there was little to gain off the set piece; that and a bit of a lack of precision.
The game seemed to be lacking a bit of structure, that patience to work the phases to control possession or even a spark of imagination to create a line break.
However, it was through an error that the university finally broke the deadlock at the end of the half.
Moseley’s cover defence seemed to have everything under control as he slid in to pick up loose possession, but he flew too far past the ball, and Amesbury picked up to then pass to Henry King to touch down, and Mike Phillips converted.
Having waited so long for some points, more arrived just two minutes into the second half.
Cambridge winger Ed Loftus seized on the visitors dropping possession to kick on twice and then touch down in the corner. Phillips’ extras made it 14-0.
A searing, incisive run from former Cambridge back Chris Leatham led to Moseley recycling possession for Jack Byrne to touch down a converted try for 14-7.
Phillips then landed a penalty on 54 minutes for 17-7, only for Angus Lowe to finish off a rolling maul for Moseley in the 61st minute to make it 17-12.
Phillips kicked another penalty for the students, and then good work from Rowan Beckett saw him draw the last man and make a pass over the top to King to race away for his second try, which Phillips converted to make it 27-12.
Cambridge’s defence had been firm for much of the game, but they were breached twice in the final five minutes, with Leatham and Byrne, in the final play of the game, both scoring.
However, the Light Blues had done their hard work by that point and were as much relived as anything else to get their first win of the term.
And they will be hoping that the much-craved momentum will build when they face Crawshay’s Welsh XV next Wednesday (November 8).
Cambridge University: Amesbury; King, Russell, Triniman, Loftus; Phillips, Tullie; Briggs, Huppatz, Somers, Beckett, Hunter, Rose, Hammond, Richardson.
Replacements: Calvert, Moros, McCallum, Eriksen, Hargreaves, Smart, Bell, Griffiths.
Birmingham Moseley: Fluker; Leatham, Cataki, King, Hare; Hollingsworth, Pointon; Fidler, Weaver, Higgins, Croft, Dawson, Campbell, Collin, Lowe.
Replacements: Roach, Boyce, Byrne, Allsopp, Johnson, Gray, Antuna.
Scorers: 40+5 King try – Phillips con (7-0), 42 Loftus try – Phillips con (14-0), 47 Byrne try – Fluker try (14-7), 54 Phillips pen (17-7), 61 Lowe try (17-12), 68 Phillips pen (20-12), 72 King try – Phillips con (27-12), 76 Leatham try – Fluker con (27-19), 80+3 Byrne try (27-24).
Sin bin: Moseley – Lowe (foul play, 67).
Referee: Tim Allatt.