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Richie Williams weighs up change of approach for Cambridge

Cambridge captain Ean Griffiths gets to grips with an Ampthill opponent. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge captain Ean Griffiths gets to grips with an Ampthill opponent. Picture: Keith Heppell

Richie Williams will assess whether Cambridge need to take a different approach to games as they bid to pull away from the relegation battle in National League One.

They put up another stoic defensive performance in a 22-11 defeat to high-fliers Ampthill, but left it too late to get their own game going, with Mike Ayrton’s try not coming until the 73rd minute, adding to two Ben Penfold penalties.

Cambridge have shown on many occasions that they have the ability to move, stretch and break defences, but their sense of urgency does not pick up until the latter stages of games.

It is something Williams admits the coaching team will have to evaluate.

“I think we struggled to get any possession and there were two or three occasions where we got turned over in the first half at the breakdown,” said the head coach.

“Then in the last 20 minutes when we had to play and knew we had to score, I thought we kept the ball really well and it looked quite natural for the players to move that point of contact.

“Moving forwards, we need to go to Blackheath and give it a go to try to get something from the game because we’re getting to a point of the season now where teams below us are starting to get results.

“We have 10 games left and we need to put a run of games and performances together where we’re getting something from games.”

It is a sense of frustration for the coaching staff, especially the way that Ayrton’s try was crafted, with good line breaks at speed by Henry Peck and Alex Rayment and impressive quick ball.

There is a growing need for wins and try bonus points – with only three so far – as Cambridge are only two points off the relegation places.

“Sometimes when you’re in games and chasing you have to keep the ball in hand and have to play a bit more freely and looser,” said Williams.

“But traditionally this season, we’ve started the game in quite a controlled manner so I think we need to review the game and see if we need to play a bit more freely from the start rather than waiting for the last 20 minutes to do that.

“There are still positive signs there that we can do that. The players have the ability to do that, but I think it shows the position we’re in in the table that we’re not doing it consistently enough.

“It’s our frustration because we have the ability to do that. I think we’ve got the personnel to play that type of game but it’s doing that for longer periods in games and getting points when we’re doing that.”

Cambridge are away to fourth-placed Blackheath this Saturday (February 2).

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