Luka Jovanovic's last-gasp try sees Cambridge University defeat Army A
Luka Jovanovic demonstrated some neat dribbling skills to give Cambridge University a dramatic last-gasp 29-22 win over the Army A at Grange Road.
It has been stop-start for the Lent Blues this Lent Term, as after a 38-26 defeat to the Penguins, their game against the Spoon Anti-Assassins was abandoned because of a frozen pitch and then last week’s game against the RAF was postponed.
So what would have normally been a triple header against the Armed Forces has turned into a two-game test, and this was the first opportunity for new captain Stephen Leonard to see how his team stood up from start to finish.
And the Emmanuel College student should be happy with how it all went in an entertaining game.
The Army usually offer a stern test and although this was their A side – the first team play the French Army tomorrow (Friday) – there were still many of the elements that you tend to expect, physical upfront and a quick set of backs.
Added into the mix was that it was an all undergraduate Cambridge University side – and it is difficult to remember the last time that happened in the past 12 years, even in the Lent Term.
Maybe that was a key element to their collective spirit as they seemed to do everything together – attacking and defending.
While it was about the team, there was also an eye-catching display from Tom Walton.
The blind-side flanker was here, there and everywhere, with his all-round play very clean and tidy with some great work at the breakdown to help thwart the Army - and restricting their quick ball is always one of the key aspects.
The visitors love to get their fleet-of-foot players in possession and Miteli Vulkijapani and Elima Nawari were particularly prominent, with their neat footwork always capable of carving out space.
It was the university’s attacking game that was to the fore in the first half though, with some great off-loads, passing and support play.
Cpl Lawless kicked the Army ahead through a penalty in the fourth minute, but the Light Blues went in front when Jake Hennessey burst through on a pop pass in the 22 to touch down.
Charlie MacCallum charged down an attempted grubber kick and collected, and then passed to Hennessey on the overlap to race clear and score under the posts.
The Army put their own flier Cfn Urya away to score in the 20th minute to reduce the arrears to 12-8, and they went in front with some good play by Vulkijapani in the 22, and Lawless’ conversion made it 15-12.
After Cpl Evans was sin-binned in the 39th minute, the university got the final try of the half. After driving for the line from a line-out, scrum-half Chris Bell switched play wide for Joe Story to touch down in the corner to make it 17-15.
The Light Blues then made a great start to the second half, with another catch and drive from a line-out – which functioned very well throughout – leading to Sam Schusman dotting the ball down.
Four minutes later, a quick tap penalty saw Vulkijapani touch down, and Lawless’ conversion made it 22-22.
That was in the 48th minute, and it stayed that way for the rest of the game.
You did tend to think that the more likely scorers of some winning points would be the visitors, but some stout, well-organised defending from the students kept them at bay.
Then, in the last play of the match, the university broke clear thanks to two of their call-ups from the under-20s.
Dougal Russell kicked ahead from inside his own half, and Jovanovic won the foot race to boot on again, and then did so a second time to nudge the ball round an Army opponent.
When he took a third kick to gain that extra yardage over the line, it looked like the chance had gone, but Jovanic dived on the ball to ground it for the winning try.
Hennessey added the extras to clinch a deserved and memorable win on a night for the undergraduate, if not quite the underdog.
Cambridge University: Gatus; Story, Gnodde, Hennessey, Baines; Millen, Bell; MacCallum, Schusman, Dean, Beckett, Eriksen, Walton, McMahon, Leonard.
Replacements: Huppatz, Campbell, Miller, Hargreaves, Smart, Montesino-Jones, Saunders, Mullaney.
Army A: Cpl Lawless (RAMC); Cfn Urya (REME), Gnr Vulkijapani (RA), Cfn Nawari (REME), Capt Whittington (RA); LBdr Vunivesilevu (RA), Cpl Evans (IRWELSH); Sig Godden (RSIGNALS), LSgt McMillan (SG), Gnr Westwood (RA), Sgt Logan (RLC), LCpl Heath (RMP), Pte Matai (RLC), Capt Batterbury (RAC), Sgt Taura (RA).
Replacements: Cpl Brown (RLC), LBdr Gill (RA), Cpl Horner (REME), LCpl Hartley (RIFLES), Capt Woodhouse (RAMC), LCpl Coombes (RLC), Lt Bromley-Martin (IG).
Scorers: 4min Lawlesss pen (0-3), 12 Hennessey try (5-3), 17 Hennessey try – Hennessey con (12-3), 20 Urya try (12-8), 35 Vulkijapani try – Lawless con (12-15), 40 Story try (17-15), 44 Schusman try (22-15), 48 Vulkijapani try – Lawless con (22-22), 80+6 Jovanovic try – Hennessey con (29-22).
Sin bin: Army – Evans (technical offence, 39).
Referee: Matt Astle.