Blues v Saracens

RUGBY: MICHAEL ALHADEFF watched a strong storm sweep through Grange Road

blues rugby Kristian Cooke Sacacens Steve Townend storm Tom O'Toole

Blues 22 – 46 Saracens

The visit of Saracens provided some glamour for a chilly Monday night at Grange Road. The Rugby Prem Champs may have brought their second team – Saracens Storm – but there was nothing second-rate about the performance. Saracens stormed to victory to reveal the gap in class between a premier league outfit and a University team.

The boys in Blue would have been forgiven for thinking that they had found themselves in a hurricane during the first period. Such was the power and pace of Saracenes that the Blues were forced to cling on for dear life. Despite a competitive opening 10 minutes where the Blues showed they could hold their own, it was really only a matter of time before they succumbed.

After firmly establishing themselves in the Blues’ 22, a rolling maul created the dustructive force for Sarries Captain George to get his team on the board. The Blues faced being ripped to shreds – immeadiatly after the restart, All-Black hopeful Stanley showed infinite pace to break the line with wing Penny able to finish off to make it two scores in as many minutes. The Blues needed to batten down the hatches – a penalty managed to get them on the scoreboard.

But that provided little protection as the storm continued to rage. The Blues faced surge after surge on their line which resulted in a 13-minute try blitz before half-time. Fraser and Spurling took the opportunity to add their names to the scoreboard, while Captain George added a further two to complete his hat-trick. It showed the sort of class an England U20 international can provide on the night.

The wreckage at half-time looked damaging – the Blues had already suffered their biggest loosing margin of the season. Despite facing probably their toughest oposition, the Blues were hoping to bounce back after recent poor performances, especially with the return of Guiness-King as captain. These aspirations looked cut adrift at half-time as the boys were just struggling to weather the storm which had seen them concede seven tries.

The surge was unstopable in the first half

There appeared to be no relent in force at the start of the second half – in the opening minutes Kruis finished off a well-work move. Blues’ supporters would have been forgiven for thinking that the game was stuck on action replay – Sarries just appeared quicker in thought and body.

However,  the Blues dug deep to produce a second half performance where they outscored Saracens 19-7, which will give coach Tony Rodgers some encourgement as Varsity draws ever closer. The Blues’ fortunes turned on a piece of good luck – fly-half Townend was alert enough to intercept the ball and run in from 60 yards.

Cambridge regained some pride in the second half

The score appeared to give the Blues’ the impetus as they enjoyed the territory and possession for the remainded of the half. They now appeared willing to take the game to Saracens, although in fairness the storm had become a significantly lower force. The Blues still took their opportunities – a perfect weighted chip through allowed O’Toole to cross the line. In the dying stages, Cooke also added his name to give the score some respectability.

The Blues might not have been quite washed away, but they certainly encountered a tough battering.

Photos courtesy of David Ponting