Cambridge University beaten by Oxford in Women's Varsity Match
Dark Blues clinch Twickenham success
Womens Varsity Match, Twickenham. Picture by Keith Heppell
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A heroic defensive display from Oxford University kept Cambridge at bay to seal a 3-0 win in the Women’s Varsity Match.
Cambridge dominated possession throughout the game, and then had the upper hand with regards to territory in the second half, but try as they might, they could not get past the Dark Blue line.
And one of the main reasons for that was Oxford full-back Sophie Trott.
The first half was a battle of the defences, with Cambridge inside their own half but with the majority of possession.
It left Oxford operating a higher defensive line that seemed to suit their style, and it was probably handling errors that were costing the Light Blues.
They were creating the overlaps and the numbers, it is just that when the ball was moved along the line, the lack of precision meant the play broke down.
There were quite a few big hits going in from both teams, and it did seem as if Cambridge captain Alice Middleton had been singled out as the one to watch by Oxford.
When she broke free on 28 minutes on halfway, it took a combination of players to eventually bring her down on the 22.
It was a pattern of play that did not desist for the entire first 40 minutes, and as it was, it meant the Dark Blues led at half time 3-0 thanks to Catherine Wilcock’s penalty after 15 minutes.
However, given the attritional style of their tackling, you just wondered whether Oxford would be able to sustain the intensity in the second half.
For the first 20 minutes of the second half, Cambridge edged further into Oxford territory, but looking after possession was still hindering their progress, and the Dark Blues’ defensive line was still holding firm.
The best break of the second half came in the 69th minute as Laura Suggitt seared through the middle of the pitch deep into the 22, but Sophie Trott produced a try-saving tackle for Oxford to deny Cambridge a certain score.
And then Trott was at it again as she brought down Sophie Farrant just as the Light Blue seemed set to get in by the corner.
Trott’s heroics showed no signs of ending as when Lara Gibson broke clear on the left touchline and cut inside, the Oxford full-back was there again to throw her body on the line to keep Cambridge at bay.
Cambridge University: Middleton; Suggitt, Coleman, Charlton, Gibson; Merks, Byrne; Elgar, Pierce, Nunez-Mulder, Johansson, Weckman, Withers, Pratt.
Replacements: Farrant (Coleman, 40+1), Sanchez-Schilling (Johansson, 79), Evans (Merks, 45-50, 80+1). Replacements not used: Brickel, Bramley, Burgess, Monks.
Oxford University: Trott; Bunting, Ashilokun, Copley, Rose; Wilcock, Bliss; Smith, Metcalfe-Jones, Peker, Robinson, van Heerden, Odgers, McArdle, Behan.
Replacements: Robson (Bunting, 33). Replacements not used: Cartwright, Matte-Gregory, McCay, Taylor, MacGinty, Duffy, Martinovic.
Referee: Claire Hodnett.