Worcester trounce desperate Blues

20 November 2008

Cambridge Blues slumped to another demoralising defeat on Monday night, this time at the hands of Guinness Premiership side Worcester Warriors. With Oxford firing on all cylinders in the lead up to next month’s Varsity encounter after victories over Saracens and the same Worcester side, the defeat will add further credence to the Blues’ title as “underdogs” for the forthcoming duel.

Only some handbags at dawn you usually associate with the round-balled game brightened an otherwise eventless opening ten minutes; the Blues’ handling errors that has signified their previous matches coming back to haunt them. Worcester was equally guilty of ball-fumbling sins although they fashioned the first try-scoring opening of the game, taking advantage of a ludicrously forward pass to almost score down the left wing. Only a resolute Blues defence repelled the visitors.

Cambridge was dominant in the lineout early on but couldn’t translate this into any serious chances. A stunning 40-yard break by the returning “Welsh wizard”, Rhidian McGuire, at scrum-half almost led to the first points of the game but it was Worcester who went up the other end of the field and scored soon after. Although not aided by the now persistent showers, Cambridge handling errors gifted possession to the visitors and after several phases of forwards’ pressure, Worcester tighthead Shaun Ruwers was on hand to bundle the ball home.

This galvanised Cambridge and they played with more freedom in the backs for the 20 minute period that followed. They continued to steal the occasional lineout and dominated the scrum, only to be at first thwarted by a seemingly Tri-nations referee, who failed to spot that Worcester were collapsing it. The referee eventually relented and penalised the Worcester pack; full-back James Richards stepping up to make the score 5-3. All their good work was undone though only three minutes later as a combined effort from the Worcester forwards and backs led to a second try, scored by winger Charlie Fellows and converted Joe Carlisle. Then in the 41st minute, a stunning move amongst the Worcester backs following a 40m attacking scrum gave the Blues no chance. The ball was spread out wide with ruthless precision for inside centre Greg King to put the seal on an entertaining 10 minute period for the visiting fans; Worcester leading 19-3 at the break.

The second half continued where the first left off although Worcester failed to convert an almost certain try following a clever cross-field punt. Cambridge was in the descendancy and a truly shocking error from fly-half Sandy Reid gifted Worcester their fourth try. Reid simply passed the ball 15 yards from his own line straight to the ever thankful Greg King for his second try of the game and surely the easiest of his short career. Worcester spent the following period camped in the Blues’ half but were unable to make a breakthrough as the Cambridge defence held firm, although they suffered the ignominy of being penalised for taking too long taking a lineout.

On 65 minutes, the Warriors put the seal on their impending victory. Another mistake at the scrum on halfway by the Blues and one swift and decisive counter attacking move later and Charlie Fellows was on hand to wrap up victory for Worcester and cap a thoroughly insipid and uninspired second half performance from Cambridge.

At the risk of sounding defeatist and incurring the wrath of fellow Hughesians, all the Blues can do after this display is regroup and hope to turn their faltering Varsity preparations around in the next few weeks. The Dark Blues have only lost one match thus far in their build-up but although good form is crucial in building confidence, when December 11 comes around, anything is possible.

Men of the Match?! Rhidian McGuire for a dynamic fist half display and Trevor Boynton who showed his class and versatility in making the number 8 position his own following his switch from the second row.