Brown clinches late OEs' victory
A late try from Alex Brown saw Old Elthamians secure a hard fought victory at Grantchester Road and keep the pressure on at the top of the National One table.
Cambridge 17 Old Elthamians 20
The OEs winger (pictured) dived over with just four minutes remaining of this compelling contest after great interplay from Tom White and Dom Lespierre to give the visitors a narrow three-point lead going into the closing stages.
Then for the umpteenth time in what is rapidly becoming a season of tight finishes, Elthamians were indebted once more to a superb defensive effort in the dying moments as Cambridge battered away desperately through phase after phase on the edge of the visitors 22, looking for a match-winning score. But they simply could find no way through the wall of white shirts.
It was a thrilling end to a game between two well-matched sides who kept up a fast and furious tempo throughout and moved the ball around at every opportunity.
Elthamians have yet to produce their best form for an entire 80 minutes so far this season, but they looked lively with the ball in hand against an equally energetic and creative Cambridge side, and in parts played some lovely stuff.
With White pulling the strings at fly-half, and man of the match Harry Ledger, a study in perpetual motion around the park, Elthamians made the early running and were rewarded with the opening try after only five minutes. Strong work from Ben King and Lespierre moved Elthamians from their own 22 deep into Cambridge territory, allowing White to send a clever chip over the defence into the arms of full-back Charlie Dockery who bounced through one tackle and dived over in the corner.
Unfortunately for the in-form full-back he was injured in the process of scoring the try and was replaced on the half hour mark, although in replacement Chris Surman OEs had a more than able deputy.
After a quiet start, Cambridge fought back strongly in the second quarter and began to force the visitors on the back foot with fly-half Lawrence Rayner putting clever kicks into the corner and forcing Elthamians to build from deep. And they were rewarded with two penalties from Rayner's boot and then opened up an 11-5 lead with their first try of the game in the 34th minute.
It started with another Rayner kick to the corner that OEs made heavy weather of and they were forced into a rushed clearance to touch. From the lineout, a Cambridge catch and drive was brought down a metre short of the OEs try line, but winger Sam Yawayawa was on hand to to dive over the top of the ensuing ruck and touch down.
A penalty from White cut the deficit to three points at the interval and then Elthamians took the lead 10 minutes into the second period. A catch and drive from a lineout on the edge of the Cambridge 22 saw the OEs pack crash over the line and after consultation with his assistant, referee Callum Howard awarded the try to lock Fred Hosking.
But again Cambridge hit back and as the game began to open up they enjoyed their best period midway through the half, regaining the lead with two well struck penalties by replacement Jack Green on 64 and 73 minutes.
However, there was a further twist to this contest as Elthamians saved their best for the last of their three tries. Awarded a penalty from a driven lineout in the Cambridge 22, they played the advantage, kept their cool and patiently worked the ball through a number of phases before White’s long miss pass was tipped down by Lespierre into the arms of Brown who charged over for the match-winning score.
Tries: Yawayawa 34
Pens: Rayner 17, 29 Green 63, 72
Tries: Dockery 5, Hosking 50, Brown 76
Cons: White 51
Pens: White 43
Old Elthamians: Dockery, Lespierre, Golledge, Moffat, A Brown, White, Claxton; Rogers, Morris, North, Hosking, Kovacic, Ledger, Barton, King. Replacements: L Brown, Rudland-Thomas, Messum, Morgan, Surman.
Referee: Callum Howard