Defeat for Cambridge University against Oxford in the Men’s Varsity Match
Cambridge University men suffered a 34-7 defeat to Oxford in the Varsity Match at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.
There was a dream start to the game for the Light Blues with a try in the first minute, but they were unable to trouble the scoreboard again as the Dark Blues went on to dominate in all quarters, scoring four tries.
It is hard to remember a quicker try in recent times in the Varsity Match as after just 52 seconds Joey Gatus touched down.
There was a flowing move along the line from left to right, with Suwi Chibale making the break, Fergus Jemphrey cutting inside and then drawing the last man with full-back Gatus on his shoulder to take the pass to touch down.
Etienne Dussarte landed a conversion from the touchline to make it 7-0.
In the build-up to the game, Cambridge captain Stephen Leonard had predicted it would be particularly intense given the adapted rules - with no scrums or mauls - and it did not disappoint.
The medical staff were being called into constant action inside the first 20 minutes, and it took its toll on Oxford winger Rob Quinlan, who had to be replaced on 16 minutes.
However, within a minute, Oxford had their first points, through a penalty by Tom Humberstone.
It was the Oxford fly-half who was dictating the game for his team, putting them in the right areas of the pitch to play, and with Andrew Durutalo leading the Dark Blues' pack, it was a big contributing factor in Cambridge struggling to get out of their own half for the rest of the first period.
Under such pressure, it meant a rising penalty count and from one such passage of a play, a long, looping pass found replacement Henry Hackett on the wing to touch down for the Dark Blues in the corner.
Humberstone then landed a penalty in the 40th minute and a bit of quick-thinking increased their advantage.
Will Barker took a fast line-out in the 22 to John Aaron Henry, and he raced away to score in the corner after catching Cambridge off-guard.
It meant it was 16-7 at half time, and left Cambridge facing the question of how to get more possession and their attacking game in full flow in the second half.
The early stages of the second half followed a similar pattern, with Cambridge just not able to string the passages of play together.
Humberstone kicked another penalty to make it 19-7 for Oxford and, 10 minutes later, they had another try.
After stringing together a series of phases, scrum-half Calum Grant sniped his way over the line, with the extras making it 26-7.
Oxford’s Herbert Watson was shown a red card for foul play, while Cambridge's Matt West was sent to the sin-bin, but it at least gave the Light Blues some hope for when they were back up to full complement.
However, the problem was that ball retention was proving difficult for Cambridge and when Humberstone sent over a fourth penalty for Oxford, to make it 29-7, the game was as good as over.
Oxford put the finishing touch to their win in the 76th minute, with Hackett intercepting a pass just outside the 22 to race clear to touch down.
Cambridge University: Joey Gatus* (Corpus Christi); Sam Isaacs (Hughes Hall), Jake Hennessey* (Trinity), Suwi Chibale (Queens’), Fergus Jemphrey* (Homerton); Etienne Dussarte (St Catharine’s), Charles Favell (Homerton); Danny Collins* (Fitzwilliam), Jamey Chaudhry (Homerton), Matt Pettit (Clare), Tom Walton* (St John’s), Zac Bischoff (St John’s), Hugh Lloyd-Williams (St John’s), Demi Obembe (Churchill), Stephen Leonard (Emmanuel).
Replacements: Luke Parry (Downing), Ben Jackson (Sidney Sussex), George Cook (Robinson), Jack Blair (Hughes Hall), Matt West (St John’s), James Elms (Magdalene), Max Loveridge (Jesus), Dougal Russell* (St John’s).
Oxford University: Dan Stoller* (Queen’s); Louis Jackson* (Oriel), Nick Greenhalgh* (Keble), Andrew Humberstone (Wolfson), Rob Quinlan (Jesus); Tom Humberstone* (Jesus), Calum Grant (St Anne’s); John Aaron Henry* (Somerville), Will Barker (Keble), Euan Friend* (University), Jasper Dix* (Oriel), Piers van Dadelszen (St Edmund Hall), Sam Miller* (St Edmund Hall), Andrew Durutalo (Green Templeton), George Messum* (Kellogg).
Replacements: Louis Wright* (Trinity), Barnaby Vaughan* (Corpus Christi), Matt Dennis-Soto (Kellogg), Charlie Papworth (Jesus), Herbert Watson* (St Edmund Hall), Rory Tegner (Pembroke), Henry Hackett* (Christ Church), Oscar Marriott-Clarke (Magdalene).
* denotes Blue
Referee: Andrew Jackson.