The U21s get the day off to a bad start with a toothless 19-11 loss to Oxford.
Cambridge got off to a losing start on Varsity day as the U21 side went down 19-11 to Oxford.
A side that looked very competitive at kick-off was unable to deal with the Oxford backs and were practically out of the game by half-time.
Cambridge got off to the worst possible start when Daniel Levine bust through the midfield. Rob Stephen then slipped as he crossed to tackle and Snoddy’s despairing tackle couldn’t prevent him touching down.
But Cambridge responded quickly. Codrington offloaded excellently out of the tackle to find Seb Foster supporting him on the shoulder. this bought Foster the space to run through for the line. He couldn’t add the extras and the score was at 5-5.
But from this moment on, the half was all Oxford’s. They seemed to be able to force overlap after overlap as a disorganised Cambridge midfield struggled to deal with their direct running and a fantastic willingness to offload out of the tackle.
This finally paid dividends after some poor Light Blue defending. Ben Girling received the ball from the back of a ruck, chose the blind side and found his path gloriously unobstructed by Light Blues. One desperate tackle was not enough to stop him and Levine knocked over the two from the touchline to make it 12-5.
It wasn’t long before Oxford were further in front, fly-half Dace strolling through the line in midfield and spinning it wide to Harkness who had the pace to run it home. After Levine had added the extras the situation started to look bleak for Cambridge but these were the last points Oxford would score.
Just before half-time Foster slotted a penalty from 30 yards out on the left, and after the break he repeated the trick from almost exactly the same position to take Cambridge within 8 points.
But as the rain started to fall both sides’ play became sloppier. Oxford had the better of the half but the excellent Hugo Kelly marshaled the back row to keep them at bay. Despite the closeness of the score, Cambridge were unable to inject the urgency needed into their back play and they couldn’t give Will Smith the support he needed for his hard lines.
Foster missed a penalty to take the side within a score and Oxford saw out the game comfortably.
In truth, the Light Blues were outplayed all game. Their weak defence in midfield not only cost them points but meant that they were unable to string together either the position or territory they needed. Let’s just hope those of them who make the step up next year have learnt their lessons.
Photographs by David Ponting