Home   Sport   Article

Subscribe Now

‘I’ve won three Varsity Matches, and that feels like three and a half’, head coach James Shanahan praises Cambridge University's spirited second-half display



More news, no ads

LEARN MORE


Cambridge University suffer defeat to Oxford in the 140th Varsity Match. Picture: davidjohnsonphotographic.co.uk. (55842461)
Cambridge University suffer defeat to Oxford in the 140th Varsity Match. Picture: davidjohnsonphotographic.co.uk. (55842461)

James Shanahan saluted the performance of Cambridge University for the way they fought back in the second half in a 21-17 defeat to Oxford University in the 140th Varsity Match.

The Light Blues' head coach described the second-half as feeling like a moral victory after they overcame an early red card for Charlie Friend, an injury to on-field captain Stephen Leonard and a 21-0 deficit at half time to be the stronger side in the second half to score 17-0 unanswered points.

A dominant Oxford pack had compounded things for shell-shocked Cambridge in the first period by getting three converted tries, but three scores in the last 18 minutes, from Luke Parry, Demi Obembe and Alex King, put the Light Blues within touching distance of a draw, which was ever so close to being secured given that two of Jamie Benson's conversions struck posts - one of them even hit both posts.

“Maybe it is a moral victory. I’m really proud of the boys," said Shanahan.

Cambridge University suffer defeat to Oxford in the 140th Varsity Match. Picture: davidjohnsonphotographic.co.uk. (55842466)
Cambridge University suffer defeat to Oxford in the 140th Varsity Match. Picture: davidjohnsonphotographic.co.uk. (55842466)

“Red card early doors, lose Stevie Leonard at the same time - I thought the red card was very harsh, but there you go and 21-0 down at half time.

“You’re looking at a very big Oxford pack that was dominant up front, and at half time all I said to the boys is that we’ve worked so hard on what we do well, we’ve not done it, we’ve been flustered because of the red card.

“Let’s, metaphorically, throw a few punches, see if we can play the game we want to play and if we win the second half then that’s all I want.

“We did that and 17-0 in the second half was outstanding. A couple of officials’ decisions go either way and I think we could have nicked it, which would have been a real shock.

“Fair play, Oxford had a big forward pack, strong scrum, big maul but we stopped the big maul which I was really proud about, and scrum wise we got better as the game went on and you could see they were pretty dead on their feet, but 21 points is a lot to try to pull back and also with 14 men and losing you captain as well.

Cambridge University suffer defeat to Oxford in the 140th Varsity Match. Picture: davidjohnsonphotographic.co.uk. (55842462)
Cambridge University suffer defeat to Oxford in the 140th Varsity Match. Picture: davidjohnsonphotographic.co.uk. (55842462)

“It was always going to be tough, but I’m immensely proud of the boys. I’ve won three Varsity Matches, and that feels like three and a half."

Shanahan did not dwell on Benson's kicks, and felt that to secure anything from the game Cambridge would have needed a fourth try, especially as the likelihood would have been that Oxford would have used a penalty to go for the posts.

“Those go through at the end and you’re somehow drawing 21-21," he said of the conversions. "Potentially, Oxford may have taken a penalty in front of the posts so it may have been 24-21.

“We needed the four scores, I don’t think we would have got the 21-21 but an extra try may have nicked it. It was one of those days, the 50-50s didn’t really go our way."

Read more

Spirited 14-man Cambridge University suffer defeat to Oxford in the 140th Varsity Match at Twickenham

Captain Laura Bleehen hails Cambridge University after comeback to draw 35th Women's Varsity Match with Oxford University

Vianney Gomezgil Yaspik try earns Cambridge University with Oxford University in 35th Women's Varsity Match



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More