Three weeks of hard pre-season training officially came to a close on Monday the 26th of September as the University of St Andrews 2nd XV hosted Cambridge University U21s in an exciting friendly. The fixture was arranged as the culmination to Cambridge’s pre-season camp which was taking place throughout Scotland.The evening kick off and early evening sunshine produced a good crowd at University Park and the Saints faithful were to be treated to a truly delightful evening of rugby.
Cambridge’s camp was clearly successful as they settled into a smooth rhythm finding their strong runners in midfield and generating quick ball at ease. This pressure soon turned into penalties and Cambridge showed their attacking mentality by kicking for the corners and continued to lay siege on the Saints line. Strong defence from the Saints was pleasing but they were struggling to adjust to Cambridge’s tempo and slow their quick ball down, and the breakthrough eventually came as the Cambridge 13 took advantage of a hole in midfield to scamper over from 15m.
The re-start actually allowed Saints to finally begin to throw off the shackled as the game finally left their 22 and, as the half went on the home-side grew into the game and continued to defend with a ferocity and patience that provoked many a cheer from the boys on the sideline. Nyabdza, the Saints stand-off was living off scraps and, more than any other player, was leading the team through a rapid lesson in controlling a rugby match. Finally, with the half-time whistle imminent, the Saints started to build some pressure of their own with the ball in hand, and if it were not for a few handling errors may have crossed the whitewash themselves, as it was Nyabadman slotted the ball over to take the score to 5-3 at half time.
The second half was a different tale entirely and the Saints, having defended for the vast majority of the first half, started to put together the phases in attack. This added pressure led to another penalty which Nyabadza duly slotted over. The pressure didn’t end there and having banged on the door for a number of minutes Coleman was put into a hole and gassed over for the Saints’ opening try. With the score now at 13-5 belief started to grow. By now the Saints were in almost complete control kicking long and using the slope to their advantage meant that Cambridge spent little time out of their 22 and as the game continued and with Cambridge starting to tire the holes started to open up. First year student Tom Gold carved through the midfield on a set-piece move, after some brilliant work in the centres from Miguel de Silva, but was caught in the corner. With the Saints backs now firing on all cylinders and with some quick ball deep in the Cambridge 22 the crowd was treated to another try as de Silva danced through the defence to extend the score to 20-5 with minutes left. However, the Saints weren’t finished there a winger Luke Turnbull added the third try of the night and sent the fans into raptures whilst Nyabadza added the extras taking the final score to 27-5.
The game was a wonderful end to both sides pre-season preparations and St Andrews Director of Rugby David Ross was quickly starting to talk about a re-match:
'We were very happy that this fixture was able to happen and it was a great occasion for players and coaches alike. It's not often we get to match ourselves up against a team from south of the border so it was a great test and we were delighted with our 2nd XV's performance. We'll definitely be looking to get a rematch in the calender soon!'
J. Sloan, M. Campbell, C. Banach, K. Leask, J. May (C), M. Glenfield, R. Gibson, C. Herriot, J. Macdonald, T. Nyabadman, T. Gold, M. Campos Da Silva, F. Knight, J. Goddard, Geraldinho.
Subs: N. Richardson, V. Semogas, N. Winton, L. Stewart, D. McNeil, D. McKean, S. Coleman