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Richie Williams takes pride in ‘accelerated development’ of Cambridge in National League One



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Ben Brownlie in action for Cambridge against Bishop's Storford. Picture: Chris Fell (53837795)
Ben Brownlie in action for Cambridge against Bishop's Storford. Picture: Chris Fell (53837795)

Richie Williams believes that Cambridge are exceeding expectations after beating Bishop’s Stortford 24-19 to finish the year in fifth place in National League One.

Buoyed by handing out only a second defeat of the season to leaders Rosslyn Park, Cambridge made a good start at Stortford through a penalty try in the third minute.

Will Roberts touched down and George Cullen converted to make it 7-7, only for Ben Brownlie to score his 17th try of the season to restore Cambridge’s lead.

But the hosts touched down again, through Chris Smith, to make it 12-12.

Two second-half tries from Ziana Alexis, one of which was converted by Marc Koteczky, made it 24-12, and Stortford were only able to respond with an unconverted try for a losing bonus point.

“It was really pleasing to firstly back up the Rosslyn Park performance the week before,” said Cambridge director of rugby Williams.

“That was a big focus for the group this week, not to drop off the levels of intensity we produced the week before.

“I think what helped that process was the fact it was a local derby game against Bishop’s Stortford, and that it was the last game before Christmas helped as well.

“Huge credit to the players as they managed some pretty bad conditions really well.”

Gareth Baxter in action for Cambridge against Bishop's Storford. Picture: Chris Fell (53837622)
Gareth Baxter in action for Cambridge against Bishop's Storford. Picture: Chris Fell (53837622)

It means that Cambridge have now collected 13 points out of a possible 15 from their past three games. The run has helped lift them up to fifth in the table just 10 points off top spot.

“We’re probably ahead of where we thought we were going to be,” said Williams.

“The players have accelerated their development since September and what we’re seeing now is probably something like I saw back in June in that first pre-season session.

“I think they’ve developed really quickly as a group. I think the leaders in the team have driven standards really well. I think the most pleasing aspect of it all is the consistency we’re seeing every week in training on a Tuesday and a Thursday but also on a game day on a Saturday.”

Williams is delighted with the progress of the club, but does not expect the squad to rest on their laurels.

“We’re really happy. I’m proud of everybody’s efforts at the club to get to fifth place in National One, we’ve certainly not come close to doing that in my time at the club so I think the players have to be commended for that,” he said.

“I think what we will do in January in that first session back is to probably set some more goals for the second part of the season.

“Knowing the group as well as I do, I think their expectations now will be that they want to push on in the second part of the season.

“They won’t be satisfied with a sixth place, I think they will drive each other to hopefully reach higher standards again.”



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