Ross Stewart urges Cambridge focus to avoid relegation battle
Defeat to Esher makes Cambridge look over their shoulders
Ross Stewart has called on Cambridge to pull together in a bid to avoid slipping into trouble in National League One.
The 36-22 home defeat to Esher last Saturday leaves them 11 points outside the relegation places, with six games remaining.
And the frustration for Cambridge is that their better performances tend to be against the top teams, rather than those around them in the table.
“It’s that don’t-have-anything-to-lose attitude,” said Cambridge director of rugby Stewart. “I thought we had turned a corner, to be brutally honest.
“We said that we can beat anyone in this league and we want to get promoted. We wanted to play like a team that feels that and actually believes it.”
Two late tries did the damage for Esher, but Cambridge were off colour for much of the match.
“We looked nervous, we looked a bit tentative and spent the first 20 minutes sparring away but we never then kicked on to stamp our authority,” said Stewart.
“It was woeful (our defence). We made their attack look a lot better than it is, and these guys have not done very well away from home.
“What you want is your defence flying up and putting pressure on them, which we did on the odd occasion and got some turnover from it and scored from it.
“For 87 per cent of the game we were just passive, slipping off tackles and it’s just not good enough.”
Stewart wants a response this Saturday when Cambridge travel to Fylde, who are four points and two places above them in the table.
But he knows the performance against Esher was an anomaly, and they need to stick to their principles.
“At the end of the day, the players and the staff have got to come together and you just have to work out and mentally prepare yourself on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday,” said Stewart.
“We’ve not picked anything up from this game; we go away to Fylde who are on fire at home at the moment.
“And we’re going to be under a serious challenge, and if we defend like that then we will concede 50-odd points.
“We just need to pull together and we know it was a one-off. The challenge is not to overtalk it, not to go into messages in training of ‘don’t do this again, don’t do this again’ because the boys know and it’s a bit like stating the obvious.
“We just have to trust in what we’ve been doing all year and what we believe in, which fundamentally is hard work – you do the hard work and the rest will come.”