After a very tense final few minutes, a good defensive stand was enough to seal the bonus point win for Nottingham over Cambridge.
Nottingham generated some early pressure in the first couple of minutes, but it didn’t last long and it was Cambridge who got up to an early lead. First with the full back Eli Caven using his pace to outrun the defence up the right wing, and then Sam Hanks finishing getting over the line after a number of phases.
Finding themselves 12 points down inside ten minutes wasn’t how Nottingham thought this game would go, but they quickly got themselves back to level pegging. Ryan Olowofela offloading to Joseph Woodward in the corner to score the first try, and then Marcus Ramage breaking free from just past the halfway line to go all the way for the equalising try.
The Archers then took the lead with a third unanswered try with ten minutes left in the first half. Kai Owen burrowed his way through the stout Cambridge try line defence for his first try for the club.
That wasn’t the end for the action in the first half though. With just a few minutes to go before the break Cambride got over the line again. Sam Edwards, playing against his old club, spotted a gap and scampered over the line to give the kicker James Benson a chance to take the lead with the conversion. Benson comfortably slotted it and the visitors went into the break two points ahead.
Craig Hammonds men came out the gates strong in the second half, scoring a try in just over five minutes from the restart. Hooker Jack Dickinson was the man who got over the line after a well executed driving maul from a lineout.
Cambridge came back trying to regain their lead, but Nottingham’s try line defence stood immensely strong, keeping them out after nearly thirty phases and eventually turning the ball over.
The rest of the second half passed with most of the action taking place in the middle of the park. Neither side really able to carve out another big opportunity.
However, with less than a minute to play, Sam Hollingsworth kicked a penalty to the corner but weren’t able to execute the driving maul and Cambridge got the ball back and were able to mount one last attack, working the ball all the way down the pitch to inside the Nottingham 22. It was only when the referee awarded the Green and Whites a penalty with the clock in the red that they were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
The bonus point win means Nottingham leapfrog Doncaster into second place ahead of their game on Sunday against Cornish Pirates. Cambridge on the other hand are still in search of their first win of the season, but will be happy with the losing bonus point.