Strength of Cambridge character encourage Richie Williams
Fightback against Sale is a good sign
Richie Williams has lauded the resolve of Cambridge as they overturned a big deficit to earn a 36-36 draw against Sale FC in National League One.
The opening match of the season was not going how the new head coach would have wanted as by six minutes into the second half they trailed 31-10.
However, a second try from Ean Griffiths, two from Ashley Elvers and one from Steve Hipwell saw them take a 36-31 lead.
But Sale hit back in the last minute through Simon Griffiths’ second try. Chris Johnson missed the conversion as a draw proved to be a fair result.
It was the manner in which Cambridge fought back that impressed most though, as they were on the ropes at a couple of different points in the game.
“I said at half time that it was a real test of what we’re about as a group,” said head coach Williams.
“In pre-season, you can’t really see that character coming through with the players so putting all the technical and tactical things to one side, that demonstrated a real desire to win and play for Cambridge.
“It is probably my biggest learning from the game, that we have a really strong group of players and a really good group that want to play well and win.
“To get themselves back in the game, from being 21 points down, is a testament to their hard work and the leadership qualities of some of the players in the group.”
Williams was encouraged by the fitness displayed by Cambridge as Sale visibly wilted in the second half, and as the hosts got their momentum going, they were proving hard to stop.
There were also clear signs of what Cambridge may be capable of achieving in possession, though they will have to balance that up with the way in which they ceded the ball at times.
“When we had the ball it was about just being patient and not forcing it, which we were guilty of in that first half,” said Williams.
“And defensively, if we had just been a little bit more aware of where Sale were attacking – certainly two tries come to mind in the first half where we just got outnumbered.
“That is the frustrating thing as Sale didn’t have to work that hard for their tries. We were guilty there of giving away some soft tries so it gives us something to work on in training.”
When Cambridge had possession, they always looked capable of scoring tries, and Williams said: “It’s testament to a lot of the work that Simon Leader and the coaches have done around our attack.
“Once we were prepared to keep the ball, once we trusted our systems and what we were trying to do, I think the results were pretty evident and we got in behind the Sale defence.”
On the overall performance, Williams was pleased to come back from 31-10 down to earn a draw.
“I think three points is probably a fair reflection and fair assessment of the game,” he said.
“I think I would probably be more disappointed if I was Sale; I think they’ve got themselves into a really good position at half time to close the game out.
“Three points is better than no points which is what it was looking like for 50 minutes of the game.”