Richie Williams calls for Cambridge to turn narrow losses into wins
Hosts edged out late on by Caldy in National League One
Richie Williams has warned against Cambridge inheriting the “valiant losers” tag in National League One this season.
A late Nick Royle try saw Caldy earn a 27-22 victory at Volac Park on Saturday to take them back to the top of the table.
However, Cambridge were at least good value for the draw, with their scrum and line-out impressing against a forward pack that has earned wide recognition this season.
The set-piece helped Cambridge earn their first penalty try of the campaign, and that was added to by scores from Rob Conquest and Kwaku Asiedu, and seven points from the boot of Lawrence Rayner, but they were never able to get more than a score clear of the visitors.
And the sucker punch came in the penultimate play of the game.
“We said in the week that we needed a reaction to a below-par performance against Blackheath and I felt to some extent we got that from the players,” said Cambridge head coach Williams.
“We highlighted how strong Caldy’s pack were, particularly at scrum and line-out and I thought we got the ascendancy in those areas.
“But ultimately we’ve been architects of our own downfall, I suppose. We’ve had the ball at the end of the game with a couple of minutes left on their try-line and we’ve given away a penalty, and then we’ve backed it up with another penalty.
“The net result is them scoring the winning try in the corner.
“I just feel really frustrated. I’m happy we got a reaction from the players, but potentially we could have got five points – with a win and a bonus point.
“I thought individually our front five fronted up against a really big, experienced Caldy pack, but ultimately in those key moments of the game we’ve come off second best and that’s been a bit of a trend in the games we’ve lost.
“Just after half time and at the end of games, we seem to be conceding penalties first and then backing it up with conceding tries.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We don’t want to be a team that’s defined by being valiant losers every week; we want to be turning these close losses into wins.”
As they prepare for a trip to the Forest of Dean to face Cinderford this Saturday (October 27), there is plenty to encourage Williams as well though.
“Our line-out was probably close to 100 per cent, I thought we won the majority of our ball,” he said, “and we got a penalty try from a scrum as well which hasn’t happened this season.
“The detail that has gone around that this week in training has been good, but I thought in other areas of our game, probably our phase-play defence, we struggled a little bit.”