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Late blow for Cambridge as Caldy win to go top of National League One

Rob Conquest scored one of Cambridges tries against Caldy.
Rob Conquest scored one of Cambridges tries against Caldy.

Nick Royle pounces to send hosts to defeat

Which comes first, the patience or the belief?

Unlock that little conundrum and it is probable that Cambridge will turn some of their near misses in National League One to victories.

It was a case of what might have been again as Nick Royle’s late try earned Caldy a 27-22 victory at Volac Park.

There was no disguising the frustration from Cambridge players and coaching staff alike at another home defeat, but once they have the time to take on board the result, they should be pleased with the overall performance.

Caldy certainly did not deserve to lose, in all truth, as they seem to be a very rounded side.

They have the finishers in the back three, with a strong spine at No 8, scrum-half and fly-half that set the tempo for the game, with open-side flanker Stuart Cross also deserving honourable mention.

Each time they advanced into the Cambridge 22 they looked more than likely to earn some points, but what impressed the most was the destructive nature of their rucking and their canniness at the breakdown.

Cambridge, however, were not to be outdone in this department for large periods of the game, giving as good as they got to make sure that there was little front-foot ball from which the visitors could work.

Also catching the eye from the hosts’ perspective was their line-out play. They looked steady and assured on their own ball, and an equally disrupting presence in defence – it was almost textbook set-piece play that deserves credit throughout, from the thrower to the jumper and all the support play.

The scrum was just as assured, and their rewards came through a penalty try in the 46th minute – a sign of their strength during the course of the match against a very powerful Caldy pack.

Therefore, it is a question of what went wrong for Cambridge – and it brings it all back down to patience and belief.

It is not a technical element, they have already shown they can compete with the best. It just feels that they need to adopt the mantra of patience, patience, patience – and that is in defence and attack.

They have already shown they can do it, such as in the wins against Plymouth Albion and Ampthill, so they just need to back themselves a bit more – and that is why it is maybe more about belief.

Trust what they are doing and how they do it, then they will realise that they do not need to force anything, and that is where patience is required – such as the play which led to the penalty for Caldy to clear their lines and ultimately the winning try, or with the last play when they knocked on in the visitors’ half.

There were other instances where you just find yourself urging that degree of patience and them not to force things, just have belief in their natural ability and technical skills.

It had started very well for Cambridge as Lawrence Rayner landed a third-minute penalty, but Caldy’s own patience shone through as good play hitting the line was rewarded when impressive scrum-half Ben Jones popped up a pass for Gavin Roberts to touch down. Jones added the extras.

The line-out was to the fore for Cambridge in the 18th minute as a catch and drive saw Rob Conquest touch down, and Rayner’s conversion made it 8-7.

It was Caldy that had the lead at half time though as Harrison Crowie skipped away from a missed tackle on the break to score and make it 12-8.

Cambridge restored their advantage in the 47th minute through the penalty try, but Jones’ penalty made it 15-15.

With Cambridge’s forwards drawing a yellow card for Caldy’s Tom Sanders, they then made the extra man tell as from a second penalty they took another scrum, which was passed wide by Kieran Duffin for Kwaku Asiedu to run in on the diagonal, and Rayner converted.

A quick tap and go penalty from Jones put in Royle to score in the corner, but with the conversion missed, it maintained Cambridge’s lead, albeit at 22-20.

The final say went to Royle though, who scored on the overlap in the corner with Jones’ conversion making it 27-22.

But Cambridge should definitely take plenty of encouragement from their overall performance against a good Caldy side who went back to the top of the table with the win.

Cambridge: Rayner; Asiedu, Yawayawa, J Ayrton, M Ayrton; Green, Duffin; Meek, Ruddock, Ibrahim, Conquest, Bretag-Norris, Benoy, Rawlings, McCloud.

Replacements: Petrides (J Ayrton, 46), Harrison (Ibrahim, 51), Rayment (Ruddock, 66), Schoeman (Rawlings, 66), Keenan (Duffin, 75).

Caldy: Roberts; Royle, Barlow, Obthuha, Hibberd; Hayes, Jones; O’Donnell, Ridgway, Salisbury, Collister, Sanders, Crowe, Cross, Dickinson.

Replacements: O’Donnell (Salisbury, 51), Gerrard (Collister, 66), Otutaha (Cross, 69), Jones (Barlow, 75).

Scorers: 3min Rayner pen (3-0), 8 Roberts try – Jones (3-7), 18 Conquest try (8-7), 32 Crowe try (8-12), 47 penalty try (15-12), 52 Jones pen (15-15), 59 Asiedu try – Rayner con (22-15), 65 Royle try (22-20), 74 Royle try – Jones con (22-29).

Referee: Harry Walbaum.

Sin bin: Caldy – Sanders (technical offence, 57).


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