Jamie Roberts makes Cambridge debut in defeat to Worcester Cavaliers
Even with the Welsh international centre, the men’s Blues slumped to a 29-7 defeat.
After months of speculation and media attention, Jamie Roberts finally look to the pitch in a Light Blue shirt.
Grange Road was packed as the men’s Blues continued their preparations for next month’s Varsity match with another fixture against a Premiership side. The Worcester Cavaliers came out on top as they ran in three early tries in the space of four minutes.
Roberts was made to wait for his real involvement of the match as Worcester started stronger. A succession of early penalties gave them field position as they ramped up the pressure on the Cambridge set piece. This has been an area of strength for the men’s Blues with Ian Nagle, a former Munster player, proving an invaluable addition.
However the Cambridge scrum was repeatedly tested and Dave Spelman paid for successive infringements with a period in the sin bin. Worcester took immediate advantage to score the first try in the game after just ten minutes.
The next four minutes saw two more tries as Worcester showed their class. They punched holes in the Cambridge defence all night with their young fly half exploiting one such gap not two minutes after the restart. Cambridge were 14-0 down with just 12 minutes played. The Cambridge lineout started poorly but improved through the night, however Worcester took advantage of one early misfire to score in the corner.
Ten minutes later Roberts had his first involvement: a bone-crunching hit that resonated around the ground just as the neighbouring fireworks did for most of the first half. Don Stevens’ men found their own pyrotechnics through a more familiar route. A breakdown penalty gave Cambridge a lineout deep in Worcester’s 22. Hooker Max Montgomery found his man with the throw and the pack were able to score from the resulting maul. James Kilroe went over to add to his try tally.
The sides went in at half time at 19-7 but Sam Farmer will rue a missed opportunity to narrow the gap further. He couldn’t reclaim his own grubber in the corner but Cambridge were in the ascendency. Worcester began the second half sluggishly giving Cambridge some cheap penalties.
After attempting to break through with another Roberts crash ball, Stevens elected to kick for the post but the captain missed his kick. He was off colour for much of the night which will be of some concern.
The game stagnated for a while after that with both sides making too many errors to go through the phases. Cambridge had one final chance to get back into their match as they pounded the Worcester line with successive pick-and-drives. The Cavaliers’ defence held firm and when the ball was eventually spun out to the backs Fraser Gillies dropped it.
Worcester added ten late points as two Cambridge forwards were sin binned. A quick penalty gave Worcester their last try to leave the score 29-7.
That score might seem harsh on the men’s Blues who competed with the professional side for most of the game. There were many areas that needed addressing though. Roberts was fairly anonymous, the set piece was not up to its usual standard and the form of Stevens might become an issue. They can put those things right when Durham come to visit next Wednesday. Kick off is at 3pm.