The Cambridge men's rugby team in trainingChris Bell

Wednesday evening saw Grange Road host Loughborough in a thrilling opening match of the season, as the men’s rugby team started their journey to Twickenham with their first victory over the Leicestershire side for many years. After a few weeks of pre-season, including a tour to Portugal, the Blues were raring to get back on the pitch and begin their campaign to retain the Varsity match trophy.

And things couldn’t have started better. Within the first minutes, scrum-half Chris Bell had touched down under the posts following a barnstorming charge by Charlie MacCallum. Not long after that, the speedy Elliott Baines scored Cambridge’s second, with both converted by Phillips.

But Loughborough were not to be deterred, and they began to launch their own offensive on the Cambridge line. Phase after phase, and soon the Light Blues were feeling the pressure, as the penalties built up and Andrew Hunter was eventually sent to the sin bin for repeated offences.

A further ten minutes of pressure in the Cambridge 22, but the Blues held their own where lesser teams may have faltered. It is indeed true that defence wins matches – and Cambridge were rewarded with a penalty and a chance to clear their lines.

A further ten minutes of pressure in the Cambridge 22, but the Blues held their own where lesser teams may have faltered.

Success breeds success, and a penalty in the corner led to a few quick phases finishing with Miles Huppatz forcing himself over to leave the score at 19–0 after 25 minutes.

But alas, the fairytale had to end at some point, and as the penalties built up Jonny Dixon was shown yellow and the Light Blue defence finally gave way for Loughborough’s first try before half time.

The second half began in a remarkably similar fashion to the first. Cambridge piled on the pressure, knocking on the door of the Loughborough defence. Most people had barely retaken their seats, and even fewer realised a penalty had been awarded, before Bell had taken a quick tap and was under the posts for his second of the evening. As the illustrious commentating team announced – “The door has indeed opened.” 26–7.

However, Loughborough’s resolve was not to be dampened, and they soon scored twice in quick succession, turning it into a one-score game. As bodies tired, however, defences seemed to strengthen, and the final 15 minutes were played out at 26–21.


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But Loughborough’s resolve was not to be dampened and they once again attacked the Cambridge half, only to be halted by a tackle from the ubiquitous Bell and the subsequent turnover. However, the pressure returned and soon Loughborough scored their second of the night to leave the score at 26–14 after 48 minutes.

A quarter of an hour later, the away side had scored once again, after some good handling, and the touchline conversion turned it into a one-score game, as the final 15 minutes were played out with the score at 26–21. As the bodies tired, the defence seemed to strengthen, which is a credit to both sides.

Early season games can never be expected to run perfectly smoothly, but Cambridge ground out a win through some tireless defensive sets. The Light Blues will be pleased to have scored four tries, though the excessive penalty count may be a slight worry. However, if this game was anything to go by, we have a lot to look forward to in the season ahead.

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