Learning curve continues for Cambridge in Rosslyn Park defeat
Park too strong for hosts
"Broken-hearted by the breakaway trywas how one supporter neatly summed up Cambridge's 32-14 home defeat to Rosslyn Park.
It was, of course, not quite as straightforward as that, but it was a defining moment in Cambridge's final game before the winter break.
And what they are have now learnt is that any slight errors or transgressions in National League One get punished.
The interception try in the 59th minute was not an error though, it was a gamble by Rosslyn Park winger Mark Kohler that paid off on his own 22 giving him the chance to race away to score - although Lawrence Hutchinson almost caught him.
It was such a pivotal moment as if Kohler's roll of the dice had failed, as it so often does in those situations, then Cambridge had a two-man overlap for an almost certain try, and a conversion would have taken them into the lead.
However, once facing a deficit of 27-14 - rather than trailing by one point or holding the lead - Cambridge retreated into their shells a bit and were trying to force too much rather than letting their natural game take over.
Of greater damage than the intercept try was the cheap penalties against the hosts and a tendency to go in too high in the tackle.
But these are the small fractions that Cambridge must be feeling are not going in their favour at the moment, although they are perhaps the harsh lessons that will ultimately serve them well in the new year.
Mistakes on halfway, be they possession or defensive led or infringements, often result in the most severe punishment on the scoreboard in this division, compared to National League 2S, and the mountain to climb to break down opponents is far greater.
Just a look at the two sets of forwards when they went to pack down for the first scrum gave an indication of this - Rosslyn Park seemed like the bigger, older kids at school, facing a side two years beneath them such was their physical superiority.
Rosslyn Park ooze with experience and were fancied to perform well this season towards the summit of the table, but a poor start has seen them chasing the coattails of the leading sides.
However, they were worth their win against Cambridge.
It was a catch and drive from a line-out that led to Park taking the lead, with a try from Mark Lilley.
The hosts had started well though, with a good tempo to their game and keeping the ball alive to create some nice running angles and line breaks.
It was from one such move that led to Cameron Ruddock breaking clear before drawing the last man to pass to Jake McCloud to touch down, with Dan Lewis' conversion making it 7-5.
Harry Leonard restored Park's lead with a penalty, but Cambridge then went back in front thanks to some neat work in moving possession along the line to create space for Matt Hema to touch down, with Lewis' extras giving them a 14-10 lead.
Park gained the upper hand at the break. Three successive penalties at the scrum against Cambridge led to a yellow card for prop Ricky Reeves but rather curiously not a penalty try for the visitors, however, they made the advantage tell as Andrew Reay got over in the corner to make it 15-14.
Ten minutes into the second period, Reay created the space to pop up a pass for Andrew Henderson to run on to for Park's third try to make it 20-14.
But Cambridge bounced back by taking the game to Park, and they had the upper hand only to suffer the sucker punch of the intercept try from Kohler, as Jack Green tried to get play wide to Albert Portsmouth and Lawrence Hutchinson.
Getting out of their own territory then became difficult for Cambridge as they arguably tried too hard to make things work, and Park sealed their win with a try from Edward Milne after another catch and drive from a line-out.
Cambridge: Portsmouth; Hutchinson, Hema, J Ayrton, M Ayrton; Lewis, Liebenberg; Reeves, Ruddock, Seal, Schoeman, Baxter, Rawlings, McCloud, Meek.
Replacements: Langley (Hutchinson, 40+2; Reeves, 50), Green (Lewis, 54), Nutley (Schoeman, 60), Petrides (J Ayrton, 61), Reeves (Seal, 64), Tyler (Ruddock, 78), Lewis (Petrides, 78).
Rosslyn Park: Henderson; Kohler, Morris, Reay, Watkins; Leonard, Crow; Lilley, Vaughan-Edwards, Maguire, Spivey, Frampton, Milne, Broadbent, Ellis.
Replacements: Wade (Maguire, 25), Boyle (Ellis, 28), Maguire (Boyle, 49-60), Nwakor-Nwanebi (Lilley, 60), Sneddon (Reay, 69), Gash (Crow, 74).
Referee: Mike Hudson.
Sin bin: Cambridge - Reeves (technical offence, 40+2).
Scorers: 12min Lilley try (0-5), 16 McCloud try - Lewis con (7-7), 20 Leonard pen (7-8), 26 Hema try - Lewis con (14-8), 40+4 Reay try - Leonard con (14-15), 50 Henderson try (14-20), 59 Kohler try - Leonard con (14-27), 72 Milne try (14-32).