Resurgent Blues Run RAF Ragged
Rugby Blues shoot down RAF at Grange Road. Read more here.
Blues 29 – 6 RAF
The Blues yesterday finally broke their losing streak against a poor RAF side, reigning supreme in a game that was cut short due to the icy conditions.
The Blues began with intent, stamping their authority on the match through an early score from Dave Riley. Fred Burdon, who was replacing skipper Jimmy Richards at fly-half due to last-minute complications, made no mistake with the conversion.
In contrast to previous weeks, the Cambridge pack had the wood on their RAF counterparts and the Blues’ second try came as a direct result of their forwards’ dominance. A penalty awarded against the reeling RAF scrum was nailed into the corner by Fred Burdon.
The Blues forwards set up a maul from the line-out and drove their way to within a few metres of the RAF line; after a few more phases England Students’ number 8 Ben Maidment crossed the line to score.
While the Blues pack dominated, the Cambridge backs weren’t firing on all cylinders during the first half. It was a back-line balls-up that saw the RAF put their first points on the board. A sloppy pass was pounced on by the RAF and, as the Blues rushed to recover, a penalty was awarded against them for hands in the ruck.
RAF fly-half Hopkins coolly slotted the three points, his boot representing his team’s only viable attacking threat in the game’s first period.
It was only when the Blues managed to spin it wide that they truly showed their class.Off lineout ball full-back Dave Riley hit the line hard and left his opposite man for dead. Faced with the RAF’s full-back Riley offloaded to Maidment, who scored his second try of the night. Burdon stepped up again for the conversion.
The RAF response was a damp squib. A missed penalty and ineffective play in the Blues 22 culminated in an RAF lineout on the Blues’ 10 metre line.
The Blues, who were dominant at the set piece all night, turned the ball over and the Cambridge forwards marched up the field in the resulting maul. Just as the drive appeared to be petering out blindside flanker Will Jones peeled off and showed a good turn of pace as he rampaged up the touch line.
After a series of offloads Ilia Cherezov finished off the break beating two men on his way to the whitewash.
Despite being in the ascendancy, the Blues still had to guard against complacency. After a period of sustained pressure, the Blues’ defensive indiscipline gifted a penalty to the RAF. Hopkins added the three points and the teams went in for half-time with the score at 24-6.
The RAF began the second half in the same way they had played in the first, continuing to kick away possession even in promising attacking situations.
The Blues back three were the grateful recipients of poor kick after poor kick and they worked well together on numerous counter-attacks. Jesuan Robert ‘Bobby’ Stevens, in particular, was a constant threat on the Blues’ left wing.
It was Stevens, Riley and Cherezov who were central to the last try of the game. Riley and Cherezov exchanged passes as the pair worked on the blindside on a raid into the RAF half. When Cherezov was hauled down, some 10 metres from the RAF line, the forwards took over, Aussie veteran Dan Vickerman smashing his way over the line.
The Blues could have had more. A sniping run by the impish Jon Cross got the Blues in behind the RAF defences. As the ball was passed through the hands Will Balfour dropped it with the try line at his mercy. This was the last real action of the fixture, the game ending 29-6 in the Blues’ favour.
As a final comment, perceptive Blues supporter Tom Stanton had just this to say: “The Blues could have scored more if Ed White was playing”.
For The Tab’s photos from yesterday’s game, click here.