U21 Rugby Boys snatch win with last gasp try in their final game before the Varsity match
Cambridge 22 – 20 Bedford
Cambridge’s under 21 Rugby boys avenged defeat earlier in the season against Bedford in their last match before Varsity.
On an arctic afternoon the under 21s took to the field for the final time before the Varsity match against Oxford. For those in the Light Blues’ squad this was the final chance to stake a claim for a place in the starting line-up at Twickenham.
Cambridge began brightly and would have been 3-0 up within the first 5 minutes had fly-half Ian Childs not shanked a makeable penalty miles wide.
It looked increasingly as though the home side would regret this missed opportunity as Bedford began to impose themselves on the game, their powerful pack putting the Cambridge scrum under all sorts of pressure.
However, sterling work from Luxembourg international Seb ‘Goldilocks’ Dunnett at number 8 helped to secure possession. Even so, it was Dunnett’s barnet, rather than his Rugby, that attracted the most attention; as one spectator put it “Yeah, he’s a good player but I’d rather be bald than have that mess on top of my head.”
Bedford’s forward dominance eventually told as they opened the scoring with a penalty to take a 3-0 lead. This proved to be the wake-up call that Cambridge needed.
A fired-up Light Blue pack won the ball against the head at a scrum on the half-way line before Dunnett pounced to scoop the ball up from the base, off-loading neatly to blind-side Tommy Palacios. The fleet-footed flanker then danced his way past three Bedford defenders, showing the sort of nimble footwork and snaking hips that Michael Jackson would have been proud of.
Quick ball and slick supporting work from Cambridge’s backs saw the ball spun out to Rob Stevens, who thundered home for the first try of the match.
Despite failing to convert their score it was Cambridge who consistently looked the more threatening. Stevens found himself inches away from gathering an exquisitely executed box-kick from scrum-half Cross and moments later speedster Aaron Sonenfeld burst from 22 to 22.
Cambridge’s second try soon followed, again coming from a scrum. Dunnett garnered possession from the base and, with his golden locks billowing majestically in the wind, showed what one bystander described as “a surprising turn of pace for a big boy” to burst past the Bedford defensive line, before sending fly-half Childs under the posts for a converted try. 12-3 at half time.
Soon after the break, the home side extended their advantage as Jonny Porter went over in the corner for try number 3. However, the withdrawal of potent Jesuan half-back pair Cross and Childs took its toll as the Light Blues’ play began to deteriorate.
Perhaps believing that the win was already in the bag, Cambridge switched off; before they knew it, Bedford had bulldozed their way over for 3 tries in quick succession. At this point, trailing 17-20 and with the final whistle fast approached, Cambridge looked to have thrown the game away.
However, with full time imminent, the under 21s were awarded a penalty in front of the posts in the Bedford 22. Determined to go for the win they tapped and went from the penalty. Their audacity was duly rewarded as Bedford, over-committing at the breakdown, left Cambridge with numbers out wide; in the dying seconds the ball was shipped out to Jonny Porter who scored his second try of the match to steal the victory.
Amid riotous scenes of post-match euphoria, The Tab managed to grab a quick word with Seb Dunnett: “Great win. I’m so psyched for Twickenham. But my main concern is that I still don’t have a date for the Varsity ball. I wish I was taking Rob Stevens’ sister but at the moment I’m taking my mum!”
On the back of today’s victory and last weekend’s win against Sandhurst (whom they defeated by a greater margin than their Oxford rivals), the under 21s go into the Varsity match with high hopes of emulating last year’s triumph at Twickenham.