Cambridge 22 Otley 47

By Oscar the Otter - April 16 2008
Cambridge 22 Otley 47 Otley recorded their 21st victory of the season with a ruthless performance against a Cambridge outfit with an impressive home record. Otley's experience proved the key with Guy Easterby orchestrating affairs. A 22 point haul from prolific Robin Kitching and 6 tries in total sealed an emphatic victory, the foundations of which were laid by a superb effort from the pack.

On a perfectly manicured playing surface, Otley played with the slope and the assistance of a stiff breeze in the first half.

Cambridge showed their intent early in proceedings by moving the ball through the hands in their own half but this strategy has its pitfalls and, following turnovers in possession, Kitching was able to convert 2 early penalty chances from distance to give Otley an early 0-6 lead. Cambridge fly-half Gareth Cull had an early chance to respond but fell just short with a difficult chance into the wind from 40 metres out.

Otley soon began to dominate possession and Cambridge lost second row John Harlock with a shoulder injury following a strong carry by Otley's Dan Hyde. With the forwards providing quick possession from a rock solid platform and Easterby's service at its slickest, Otley's backs were able to launch an attack down the left handside. Skipper Ian Shuttleworth made the initial incision behind the Cambridge defence before offloading in the tackle to Alistair Monks who was in support on the inside.

The ball was recycled quickly and Easterby sliced through a gap before delivering the scoring pass to tight-head prop Kris Fullman who, in true front row forward fashion, sprinted in from 5 metres out to register his first try of the season but a very important one for the Club. Kitching added the extras to make it 0-13 after only 10 minutes.

The re-start was re-gathered by the Cambridge forwards and the ball was soon released to their efficient backline. Their efforts were rewarded when Adam Barnard crossed in the right hand corner but Cull was unable to land the almost impossible conversion attempt into the wind. Cambridge 5 Otley 13.

Kitching made amends for a much easier missed penalty attempt when landing a beauty from halfway to extend his side's lead to 5-16 and then Otley opened up an 18 point gap after 35 minutes with a mercilessly taken opportunity.

Easterby probed on halfway before lifting a pass into the hands of Monks who hit a perfectly angled line which saw him break through untouched. Monks approached the last defender and floated a pass to the supporting and yet again Herculean Richard Snowball who looked capable of carrying 2 defenders over the line on his back but he unselfishly unloaded to support supremo Matt Stockdale who crashed over for his 7th try of the season on his return following a long spell on the sidelines with injury. Kitching converted once again and Otley led 5-23.

A couple of uncharacteristic errors gifted Cambridge possession soon after the re-start after rare lapses in concentration. The hosts took advantage and centre James Shanahan found unmarked right winger Phil Reed with a wide pass which he received before crossing in the corner. Cull hit the upright with the conversion attempt but Cambridge had reduced the arrears to 10-23 at half-time.

With Cambridge enjoying the elements in the second half it was important that Otley asserted their authority and they did so with aplomb. No 8 Max Lewis crashed over under the posts on 45 minutes after the Otley pack demolished their counterparts in a 5 metre scrummage. Kitching converted and Otley led 10-30.

Otley registered a crucial bonus point on 57 minutes when Kitching scored his 13th try of the season after a neat offload by centre Rob Whatmuff who along with fellow centre Paul Mooney, ran powerfully all afternoon. Kitching was unable to convert into the wind but Otley held a commanding 10-35 lead that left the hosts shell-shocked.

Cambridge continued to press and made a couple of rare breaks as Otley seemed to ease off slightly during a 10 minute period. Cambridge scrum-half Stefan Liebenberg took a quick tap penalty to score his side's 3rd try which replacement Luke Fielden converted to make it 17-35 and then Fielden went over himself to make it 22-35 although shanked the attempted conversion wide of the posts.

Otley slipped back into demolition mode and appropriately had the final couple of says in the matter. Replacement prop and driving maul exponent Ryan Wederall notched following a powerful effort by the forwards with Kitching landing his 4th conversion of the afternoon to make it 22-42 to Otley.

Otley were not finished and subtle play by Hyde created space for Mooney to ghost over for the 6th and final try. Kitching pulled the kick wide but the whistle sounded soon after and Otley celebrated a 22-47 'bonus point' victory.

Otley remain at the top of the table and continue to be in control of their own destiny. They now look ahead to next weekend's match at Cross Green against Blackheath where a similarly professional performance will secure the 22nd victory of the season that will guarantee promotion back to National One.

Cambridge: Barnard, Reed, Lombaard, Shanahan (capt), Kendall, Cull, Liebenberg, Laws, Otter, Kirkman, Harlock, Candlin, Remnant, Humphrey, Powell

Otley: Shuttleworth (capt), Parsons (Dench 60), Whatmuff, Mooney, Kitching, Monks, Easterby, Trethewey (Turner 70), Sayers, Fullman (Wederall 65), Snowball, Parr, Stockdale (Andre 60), Hyde, Lewis

Referee: M Tutty (NZ)


Cambridge 22

Tries: Barnard, Reed, Liebenberg, Fielden

Cons: Fielden

Otley 47

Tries: Fullman, Stockdale, Lewis, Kitching, Wederall, Mooney

Cons: Kitching (4)

Pens: Kitching (3)

Click here for photos of the match courtesy of Paul Barrett

Click here for individual league records