Cambridge University beat Oxford to win the Women’s Varsity Match
Cambridge University clinched a fourth successive victory over Oxford in the Women's Varsity Match.
In the game held at Leicester Tigers' Mattioli Woods Welford Road, a try from Maggie Simpson and five points from Anna Park did the damage for the Light Blues in a 10-5 win.
It was a very quick start from Oxford, who used the kick off to their advantage to peg Cambridge back deep in their half.
The rewards were reaped when Bianca Coltellini picked up a ball to drive over the line for the first try after four minutes.
As Cambridge settled, they started to edge their way further up the pitch.
They were having to counter a rising penalty count, which led to referee Nia Parsonage issuing a warning to the Light Blues’ captain Elisha Clark, as this was losing them hard earned yards.
The pressure finally told in the 25th minute, when Hughes Hall student Simpson took possession just outside the 22 and powered through three attempted tackles to touch down.
And just as impressive was Park’s conversion from wide out on the left.
There were a couple of other opportunities for Cambridge, but they just lacked that calmness to make it pay on the line, and so had to settle for a 7-5 lead at half time.
The penalty count took its toll early in the second half as Cambridge prop Liz Stevenson was sent to the sin bin.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, the Light Blues were enjoying the greater share of both territory and possession, but just not breaching the all important red zone of the 22 on enough occasions.
This was in no small part to some stoic defence from Oxford, who had the perfect balance of a stubborn Dark Blue wall and some last-gasp defence.
As the game wore on, you wondered whether Cambridge would be made to rue the inability to convert some of their possession into points, but that was corrected in the 74th minute.
Oxford’s Megan Carter was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on just outside the 22 and Park made no mistake with the penalty, landing it straight through the posts to make it 10-5 with 10 minutes remaining.
Inside the final five minutes, Oxford picked up a head of steam to move menacingly towards the Cambridge 22, but from nowhere Simpson landed a big, power-packed tackle to stop her opposite number in her tracks and turn over possession.
There was a chance for Cambridge to add to their points tally through Park's penalty, but it drifted just wide, however, the final whistle went moments later.
Cambridge University: Ella Halcrow* (Murray Edwards); Hetta Friend (Robinson), Emily Bell (Fitzwilliam), Maggie Simpson (Hughes Hall), Emma Jones (Selwyn); Elisha Clark* (St John’s), Colette Russell (Fitzwilliam); Liz Stevenson (Darwin), Charlotte Spruzen* (Queen’s), Vianney Gomezgill (St Edmund’s), Saffron Hicks* (Selwyn), Hilde Schneemann* (Darwin), Jenni Shuttleworth* (Churchill), Fiona Shuttleworth* (Pembroke), Anna Park (Newnham).
Replacements: Rhiannon Osborne (St Catharine’s), Laura Bleehen* (Girton), Alice Elgar* (Girton), Rose Scowen* (Magdalene), Cara Prowling* (St John’s), Emilia Bushrod (Pembroke), Jen Atherton* (Jesus), Suzi Posniak (St Catharine’s).
Oxford University: Clodagh Holmes* (University); Maddie Hindson (University), Megan Carter* (Lincoln), Biana Coltellini (Keble), Helen Potts* (New); Fiona Kennedy* (St Hilda’s), Manon Johnes (St Catherine’s); Maya Mellor (Somerville), Milly Cadman (St Hugh’s), Jessi Abele* (Exeter), Katie Collis* (Lincoln), Carla Schmidt* (New), Megan Isaac (Exeter), Alex Travers (Worcester), Hannah Cooper* (Worcester).
Replacements: Ruby James (Brasenose), Ginny Gough (Regent’s Park), Iris Maxfield (St Anne’s), Alex Allum Pearce (St Hugh’s), Rachel Martin (Brasenose), Stella Farmer (Worcester), Laurel Chor (Christ Church), Chloe Hawley (St Catherine’s).
* denotes Blue
Referee: Nia Parsonage.