Louis Rawlings hails impact of Darren Fox in Cambridge's defensive resilience
Win over Hull Ionians provides breathing space
Cambridge moved a long way to ensuring their National League One status next season with a 29-19 win over Hull Ionians last Saturday.
It may not have entered the minds of the players and coaching staff, but supporters were getting a little nervous looking over their shoulder as the sides beneath them accumulated points.
The concerns were eased somewhat with a 50-26 win over Old Albanian the previous week, but the victory over the Yorkshire outfit has given them an opportunity to breathe a lot easier.
A win for Hull could have seen them move to within two points of the hosts, but instead there are now 12 between the two, with only a total of 20 still up for grabs.
It was hard going for Cambridge, and once again their defence was to the fore.
With a second try bonus point – for scoring four in a match – in seven days, it may have been easy to look to the more attacking element of their game, but such was the threat posed by Hull, that it is again the forwards that deserve to revel in praise.
Their collective work as a unit deserves great credit, you never tend to find an isolated tackler with no support around him; they go in as one, get back as one and go forward as one.
For such a team effort, it is always tough to single out an individual, but after a star man rating in the Rugby Paper against Old Albanian, Louis Rawlings followed up with the sponsors’ man-of-the-match award against Hull Ionians.
It was the open-side flanker’s try that started proceedings, which was added to a brilliant intercept score from Tom Emery and one apiece from Mike Ayrton and Joe Britton, with Ben Penfold kicking nine points.
“It was massive really,” said Rawlings. “These last two games we’ve definitely needed five points from each and it’s just good to put the performance in.
“We’ve put a few performances together, without those last finishing touches so it’s nice to dominate a team; we never felt like we would lose the game which is nice.
“It does take the pressure off a little bit, but also gives us that confidence in what we’re trying to build towards for next season as well.”
Rawlings is definitely on a high, with competition in the pack particularly competitive this season.
“I’m just hitting form,” he said. “I’ve been playing well in the twos, and getting some 80 minutes under my belt.
“If you haven’t got that competition through the whole squad then it makes the coaches’ decisions easy and it’s not what you want.
“You want that competition and everyone playing at their best to push each other on; that’s basically what we’ve got, especially in the back row and the forwards.
“We have a lot of people pushing for positions.
“Our defence has just thrived this year; whereas in previous years it’s been more of our attack and now I think it might be because of Foxy [Darren Fox], something has just clicked and our defence has overtaken our attack.”
This Saturday they face former director of rugby James Shanahan.
“We owe Blackheath one big time, and then Bishop’s Stortford is one you always want to win, especially with the way they’ve been playing,” said Rawlings.
“It’s going to be a tough end to the season, there aren’t easy games.”