Grange road was the setting for a close game on Tuesday nightVysotsky

The visit of Trinity College Dublin to Grange Road on Tuesday night marked Cambridge’s final test against University opposition before the Varsity match on the 6th December, and the Irish outfit, who play in the top flight of Irish club rugby (1A) and boast a number of Leinster academy players, seemed sure to provide the Light Blues with a stern test of their Varsity credentials.

Indeed, the opening phases certainly proved challenging for Cambridge, struggling to cope with the expansive running and offloading game of the Irish students, who raced into a 14-0 lead within the first ten minutes and were up 21-7 within the first twenty. In those opening twenty or so minutes, Trinity College Dublin looked likely to score every time that they went wide, and the mood amongst the healthy crowd of both students and locals was bleak, with many gloomily recalling the Light Blue’s harrowing 50-0 defeat at the hands of the Dubliners in 2016.

It is testament to the team’s character and defensive work that the Light Blues kept themselves in the contest in those challenging opening phases. As the game wore on, the forward pack, boosted by the return at No. 8 of 29 year-old club captain Nick Koster (former Professional rugby player at Bath and Bristol), began to dominate, providing a base from which the Blues were able to show off their own attacking play. The first example of forward domination came in the 28th minute when after a catch and drive from a line out, Huppatz was able to bundle over in the corner.

“The Light Blues put in a hugely promising performance and displayed the strength of character, dominance in the forwards and clinical attacking play which will stand them in good stead as preparations for the 137th Varsity Rugby match intensify.”

 Indeed, this proved to be something of a turning point and Cambridge were able to dictate play for the rest of the game, stifling Trinity’s attacking verve bar an inexplicable defensive lapse in the opening minutes of the second half which allowed McKeown to break through the middle for a try. Camped inside the Trinity 22 for much of the second-half, Cambridge reduced the deficit through tries from Jordan Eriksen and Jake Hennessey. It was not until the 68th minute, however, that Cambridge finally got their just rewards and took the lead for the first time in the game through a Mike Phillips penalty, which was awarded following more good work from the forwards at the breakdown.

 The visitors, audibly and visibly shaken by Cambridge’s second-half onslaught, never looked likely to get back into the game in the final ten minutes. Instead former Harlequins Academy and England Sevens centre Hennessey added gloss to the Cambridge victory with a wonderful solo try, evading three or four tackles to touch down below the posts.

 Though coach James Shanahan is likely to have been disappointed by the slow start, the Light Blues put in a hugely promising performance and displayed the strength of character, dominance in the forwards and clinical attacking play which will stand them in good stead as preparations for the 137th Varsity Rugby match intensify.


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CURUFC: MacCallum, Huppatz, Dean, Eriksen, Hunter, Leonard, McMahon, Koster, Bell, Phillips, Story, Hennessey, King, Baines, Gatus

Replacements: Schusman, Campbell, Beckett, Cook, Hargreaves, Saunders, Gnodde, Blick, Moore

Trinity College Dublin: Dunne, Hogan, Murphy, Moriarty, Quinn, Fennelly, Lowndes, Vermeulen, Sheehan, Donnelly, O’Dwyer, Greene, Pim, McKeown, MacDonald

Replacements: Horan, Clear, Clarke, Kearney, Egan, O’Kennedy

Referee: Jack Lewars

Scorers: 7 min MacDonald try - Fennelly con (0-7), 13 Sheehan try - Fennelly con (0-14), 15 Bell try - Phillips con (7-14), 21 Hogan try - Fennelly con (7-12), 28 Huppatz try (12-21), 42 McKeown try (12-26), 46 Hennessey try - Phillips con (19-26), 58 Eriksen try - Phillips con (26-26), 68 Phillips pen (29-26), 80+1 Hennessey try - Phillips con (36-26)

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