There was a tough lesson for the Cambridge students as they conceded nine tries in a 59-7 defeat to Northampton Wanderers at Grange Road in their latest build-up match to the 2017 Varsity Match.
The East Midlands professionals scored three tries in the opening 10 minutes and six in a first-half display that saw them head into the interval with a 38-0 advantage. It took the Light Blues a while to get up to the pace of the game, but they did compete on more even terms in the second half.
They sured up their defence, put together some attacking moves of their own and crowned a gutsy night at the office with a try from skipper Charlie Amesbury in the 54th minute that was set-up by Nick Koster. Michael Phillips added the conversion to finally give the home fans something to shout about.
The Wanderers, who beat Oxford 50-0 and Cambridge 61-7 in successive weeks last October and who were 71-12 victors’ at Grange Road in 2015, added three more tries in the second half, but certainly found the students a much more lively and streetwise prospect after the break.
And that’s what these games leading up to the Varsity Match at Twickenham on Thursday, 8 December, are all about, learning. Head coach James Shanahan will have taken a number of good points out of the game and if nothing else he is learning about how his new players are able to cope under intense pressure.
Next up for Amesbury’s side are Trinity College, Dublin, and Richmond Vikings both away from home.
Cambridge University: Charlie Amesbury (Queens’, captain) *; Henry King (St Catharine’s) *, Archie Russell (St Edmund’s), Jake Hennessey (Trinity), Ed Loftus (Queens’); Mike Phillips (Emmanuel) *, Seb Tullie (Emmanuel) *; Will Briggs (Magdalene) *, Andy Burnett (Jesus) *, Jonny Dixon (Downing) *, Henry Rose (Jesus), Rowan Beckett (Peterhouse), Nick Koster (Queens’), Stephen Leonard (Emmanuel), Buchan Richardson (Selwyn)
Reps: Miles Huppatz (Downing), Tom Wilson (Girton), Henry Somers (Hughes Hall), Tyler Hammond (Queens’), Jordan Eriksen (Girton), Tyler Hammond (Queens’), Chris Bell (Girton), Andrew Craib (Queens’), Rory Triniman (Hughes Hall) *
Photo credit – Claire Jones