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Cambridge must not be 'too fearful' against Saints - boss Richie Williams

Cambridge lost their opening Premiership Rugby Cup game against Doncaster Knights
Cambridge lost their opening Premiership Rugby Cup game against Doncaster Knights

Cambridge insist they are not involved in the Premiership Rugby Cup simply to "make up the numbers" ahead of their trip to Northampton Saints.

They earned the right to take part in the revamped competition with last season's promotion to the Championship.

Saturday's game against Saints is one of two against Premiership opposition - Bristol Bears are also in the group.

"There's a clear blueprint there of what we need to do over the next couple of weeks," said boss Richie Williams.

"[It was] not the result we wanted [at Doncaster], we're not used to losing games, but equally we've got to manage everyone's expectations, there's a lot of good things we can reinforce looking ahead to the game at Franklin's Gardens."

Cambridge are in their centenary season, having been formed in 1923, and former England captain Dickie Jeeps is among their former players, while current Saracens full-back Andy Goode was once part of their youth set-up.

They won 10 games in a row to pip the Berkshire-based Rams to the National League One title and will embark on their first campaign in the second tier of the English game next month.

The Blood and Sand led briefly in their opening group match at Doncaster before the Yorkshire side ran in six tries to one - by Morgan Veness - to win 38-11.

Cambridge director of rugby Richie Williams
Richie Williams was promoted to the role of director of rugby in 2020

Williams told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire that it was important his side "remember the context".

"We're a semi-professional team coming up against one of the big boys in the Championship, they're a full-time outfit, and after 35 minutes we were winning 6-5," he added.

"That was the message at the end 'be proud of that effort, but equally be disappointed with the scoreline'.

"We were probably architects of our own downfall at times, and what we learned was that any mistakes we make at this level, we're going to be punished.

"You could see the intensity of that game in comparison to National One last season, you could see some of the collisions, so it's a huge step up but this next block of fixtures is going to prepare us perfectly for the start of the league campaign in mid-October."

With players away at the World Cup in France, Northampton gave debuts to eight players as they lost 48-22 to Ealing Trailfinders on Sunday.

But despite the absence of star names, Cambridge's game against Saints remains one of the biggest in their history.

"Who would have thought we'd be playing them in a competitive fixture?" Williams said.

"We want to be competitive in these games. We're not just turning up to make up the numbers, we want to show what we're about as a group.

"That'll be the message going into the week 'don't be too fearful of the opposition', impose our game plan on Saints and we'll see where we are come Saturday evening."

Following the trip to Franklin's Gardens, Cambridge have home games against Cornish Pirates and Ealing - who finished fifth and second in last season's Championship - before travelling to Bristol for their final group fixture against the Bears on 6 October.