Rubgy League: Green Lions crushed in end of season mauling

Chris McKeon 4 May 2012

Cambridge 28 Bedford Tigers 52

Cambridge 0 Oxford 48

After disappointment in the Varsity Match, the Green Lions wrapped up their season a few weeks later than usual with a friendly run-out against a Bedford side one week away from the start of their own season in the East of England league.

Capitalising on a knock-on right from the kick off, Rupert Grace ran in Cambridge’s first try and then kicked the conversion to make the score 6-0. This was to be the only time Cambridge led as their own coach Andy Champ, playing for the other side, levelled the scores. For the rest of the half, Cambridge found it difficult to hold onto possession and Bedford could capitalise on a sterling but tired defence.

Things were by no means easy for Bedford. Cambridge clawed their way back into the game in the second half, Andy Winfield and Tom Elton moving the ball around with the skill they have shown all season. However, 28-22 was as close as the scores were going to get and Bedford, aided by some deft running from their slippery fullback Jamie Lau, managed to increase the margin.

Cambridge scored one final try as prop Freddie Bromley finished off a breakaway move. Captain Matt Commin intercepted the ball in Cambridge’s own 20 and broke through the defence only for his pace to fail him as he was dragged down yards short. Fortunately, two passes saw the ball reach Bromley who powered through.

This had been a friendly affair – a warm-up game for the Tigers and a winding down for the Lions. Six weeks earlier under the lights at the Richmond Athletic Ground, things had been entirely different and Cambridge had learned that, in rugby as in life, you don’t always get what you deserve.

Even the crowd had been Oxford-dominated and, despite a tightly contested opening, so was the scoreboard. Cambridge found themselves outplayed in defence and outmuscled in attack with the resulting score line the heaviest defeat in Varsity history and the first time Cambridge had failed to register a single point.

It was not, it should be said, the worst performance ever put in by a Cambridge side. The spirit and ability the Green Lions had shown throughout the season was still there, but they were beaten by a better side. Still, in the second half, they had their moments. Fullback Cushing broke down the right wing, offloading to Elton who played a swift one-two with Grace before, with the whitewash looming, playing the ball inside to Bromley. It was their best opportunity, but it was not to be.

Other chances came, but passes were a split-second too late and, despite a period camped on the Oxford line, Cambridge left with nothing but a burning desire for revenge next year. It was unjust, but sometimes that is just the way it goes.

Chris McKeon