Struggling Saints Edge Out Blues
The Blues narrowly lost out to a Northampton team fielding England full-back Shane Geraghty on Monday night.
Cambridge 10-22 Northampton Saints
A big crowd watched the Blues narrowly lose out to premiership side Northampton Saints last night.
The Northampton team was a mix of youth and experience, with a few academy players starting alongside England full-back Shane Geraghty.
Despite expectations of a repeat of last year’s drubbing, the Blues put in a plucky performance, displaying a disciplined defence and solidity at the line-out.
The Blues snuffle out an early Saints attack. Photos by Tim Sherrington. View more here.
It was the home side who actually started the game strongest, with Sandy Reid pulling off a neat switch with Fred Burdon in the centres which nearly put the Red Boy through.
However, the Blues could not build a platform due to the dominance of the Saints’ scrum, meaning that Cambridge were not able to play the fast expansive game that they have been so brilliant at this season, and with which they annihilated Blackheath with last week.
The home side’s defence fell asleep in the first ten minutes, allowing the Saints’ pretty boy scrum-half to skip through the entire line to set up a one-on-one with full-back Jimmy Richards. However, Richards’ crunching tackle seemed to wake the Blues up a bit, and subdue the Northampton nine.
After this Cambridge stepped it up, resisting wave after wave of Northampton attacks. At one moment both teams and the crowd thought that the Saints had scored after their winger nipped over in the corner, finishing a spectacular move.
Northampton’s giant second-row gets stuck in. Photos by Tim Sherrington. View more here.
However, fortunately for the Blues, the ref thought he had noticed a forward pass in the build up, and to the bewilderment of Northampton, the try was disallowed.
The home side did their best to capitalise on the advantage, and some hard work from the forwards overturned the Saints’ pack, enabling the Blues to clear the ball out of their own 22 for the first time in twenty minutes.
However, it was not long before the Northampton pack had set up camp again on the opposition line, this time utilising the only area where they were clearly the stronger, the scrum, to try and bulldoze their way through Cambridge’s defences.
After a few minutes of sustained pressure, the ref lost his temper with Cambridge and sin binned hooker Jamie Gilbert and awarded Northampton a penalty try for their efforts.
Blues skipper and inspiration Jimmy Richards rallies his troops. Photos by Tim Sherrington. View more here.
At this point in the game the Blues looked as if they needed a little lift, especially in the pack which had sucked up the Saint’s blows for most of the half. However, flanker Tom Stanton seemed to cheer everyone up a little bit with a massive hit on the bleach blonde Northampton scrum half.
Just before the break the Northampton scrum again pushed the Blues over their own line to score another, to leave the half time score at 17-0.
After the re-start, the Blues realised that their best chances of success lay in trying to keep the ball away from the Saints steroid fuelled pack, and to play the sort of open game in the backs that was so successful last week.
This they did superbly, scoring the try of the game just after the restart.
Sandy Reid and Ilia Cherezov chase Shane Geraghty. Photos by Tim Sherrington. View more here.
In a great team move, Jimmy Richards turned the Saints winger inside out before linking with Ilia Cherezov who evaded England player Geraghty with a sweet chip that was collected by Jesus try-machine Rob Stevens, who then dashed over the line.
With the ball the Blues were beginning to look a bit more confident, and showed what they can do given a bit of space. In the next ten minutes there were two superb breaks from Burdon and flanker Ben Martin, and the Blues managed to win a penalty in the middle of the pitch which was duly converted by Richards to make the score 10-17.
By now the crowd were beginning to sense that the Blues might be leading a fight back. For the first time in the game they had some possession and were using it well.
The home side was unable to get the crucial second break-through though, and the the Saints’ superior fitness also began to show.
They managed to put the game beyond reach in the last ten minutes when a sloppy kick went straight down Geraghty’s throat. The England man drew the only Blues player chasing and threw a long pass to put 18 year old Ryan Glynn away in the corner.
Cherezov is stopped in his tracks. Photos by Tim Sherrington. View more here.
Cambridge did not quite give up, with Ilia Cherezov making two more breaks down his wing. However, each of these came to nothing and the final score remained a respectable 10 -22.
After the final whistle, one member of the Saints’ coaching staff was overheard saying: “I was expecting a cricket score tonight. All credit to Cambridge, they’ve done well – really got stuck in. They’ve grafted.”
Plenty more grafting will be required when Cardiff visit next week.
The next Blues game is against the Cardiff Blues on Monday 28th at Grange Road (7.15 kick off).