Cambridge captain Daniel Dass was forced to retire due to injury on 70 minutesDevarshi Lodhia

CURUFC 22

Royal Navy 19

Cambridge University Rugby Union Football Club, Grange Road

A last minute try was not enough to deny Cambridge University Rugby Union Football Club (CURUFC) a 22-19 victory against an incredibly physical Royal Navy side in their final game of the season at Grange Road on Wednesday night. Following a disappointing 19-7 loss to the Royal Air Force last week, the Blues showed great resilience and fortitude to overcome the reigning Inter-Services Champions and end their season with a much-deserved victory.  

Cambridge dominated the opening exchanges in the damp conditions, taking advantage of the slick ball to put the Navy’s defence under pressure with quick passing manoeuvres. The early pressure paid off as Henry King opened the scoring for the Blues within the first 5 minutes. Mike Phillips’ conversion attempt was unsuccessful as Cambridge took a 5-0 lead.

The Navy struggled to gain a foothold in the game early on as a series of handling errors and a firm defence from Cambridge, bolstered by a series of crunching tackles by Tom Stanley ensured they rarely threatened the Blues’ try line. When the match looked as if it was about to descend into an attritional battle between two sizeable, powerful packs, Nick Calvert passed to Simon Davies to put him through to score in his final match in a Light Blue shirt. Phillips was on target this time with his conversion attempt to make it 12-0.

Cambridge tasted victory in Daniel Dass's final match as captainDevarshi Lodhia

Cambridge’s second try sparked the Navy team into life and provided them with some much-needed impetus as they scored with their first real attack of the half. Navy winger Greg Welling took advantage of a gap in the Cambridge defence to score in the right corner before their full back, Jon Humphrey, made his kick from the touch line to leave the score at 12-7 going into the half-time break.

Perhaps learning from their first half mistakes, the Navy made the stronger start in the second period, with captain Greg Loydall opening the scoring for the half, levelling the scores at 12 apiece. Cambridge, however, responded almost instantly, scoring under the posts following another incisive attacking move. Fraser Gillies somehow managed to miss the seemingly routine conversion, resulting in the match announcer comparing his effort to that of Scotland’s Finn Russell and his woeful conversion attempt against France in last weekend’s Six Nations.

The frustration of being a try down was really starting to show, as the Royal Navy team started to lose their discipline with Tristan Trehan and Seti Raumakita both receiving yellow cards in quick succession for high tackles. Cambridge were, however, unable to exploit their two-man advantage as the Navy’s dogged defence ensured the score remained the same.

With the clock ticking down and Cambridge in the ascendency, it seemed that this would be the perfect swan song for Blues’ captain Daniel Dass. However, this was not to be as he was forced to come off with just ten minutes to go following an injury.

Cambridge rallied in their captain’s absence as a mazy run from Ed Loftus put Henry King through for his second try of the night to extend Cambridge’s lead to 22-12 with only 4 minutes on the clock. Cambridge, however, were not able to hold on until the end as the Navy scored a converted try as the match ended 22-19. In all honesty, the result flattered the Royal Navy team who were thoroughly outclassed by the Light Blues over the course of the match.

Despite a mixed Lent term, it has undoubtedly been a successful 2016/17 for Cambridge. December’s victory in the Varsity Match at Twickenham for the first time in seven years was undoubtedly the highlight in what has been a marquee year for the Light Blues.

CURUFC: Will Briggs, Andy Burnett, Demitri Moros, Tim Bond , Rowan Beckett, Tom Stanley, Brian du Toit, Daniel Dass (Capt.), Seb Tullie, Mike Phillips, Ed Loftus, Rory Triniman, Simon Davies, Henry King, Fraser Gillies, Nick Calvert, Ewan West, Tom Wilson, Matt Watson, Sam Troughton, Chris Bell, Joe Girling, Joe Story

Royal Navy: Tom Jones, Ben Priddey, Mark Owen, Joe Staniforth, Matt Harvey, Ben Fox, Tristan Trehan, Jim Kava, Corey Moore, Greg Loydall, Dimmock Williams, Jack Basher, S Buinimasi, Greg Welling, Jon Humphrey, Tom Hughes, Joe Burton, Chris Warner, Dan Mason, Seti Raumakita, Lewis Cooper, Gareth Rees, James Griggs, Eldon Myers

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