Everyone loves an underdog!
Both Oxford and Cambridge stepped onto the pitch at Marston on Wednesday 3 February 2016 with a point to prove: hosts Oxford to set right the defeat they suffered during the 2015 Varsity Match held at Twickenham Stadium, and Cambridge to set forth their dominance over Oxford since early 2015. The tone for the match was set in the 2nd minute, when Oxford won the Cambridge scrum by driving them back over 2 metres. The Oxford pack dominated, both in the scrum and in attacking open play. The hosts conceded several penalties in the first half but Cambridge never succeeded in punishing them for it. Much of the first half was played in the middle of the pitch with Oxford advancing into the Cambridge 22 after some great carries by the Oxford tight five. A try-saving tackle from winger Sophie Trott resulted in a half time score of 0-0.
The second half saw both teams attacking hard, and subsequently conceding many penalties. On one such occasion, 15 minutes into the second half, a Cambridge penalty in their own 22 turned out to be the game changer. Oxford’s Captain Carly Bliss opted for the penalty kick. Fly-half Catherine Wilcock remained cool under immense pressure and aced the kick, which put Oxford up 3 points to nil. This spurred Cambridge to play a more attacking game. Solid defensive work from inside centre Ellen O’Connell and lock Elmarie van Heerden set the tone for the whole Oxford squad to tackle offensively and maintain a strong and connected defence, stopping Cambridge from making ground. Their frustration showed, and Oxford held their composure. A huge defensive effort 20 seconds from the final whistle saw Oxford hold off a final Cambridge attack from a penalty on half way. The match concluded with Oxford beating Cambridge 3-0, in front of a small but roaring crowd. Oxford were worthy winners, and proved they are ready to take on Cambridge under the bright lights of Twickenham Stadium once more in December. They also complete their BUCS League fixtures to finish 4th in the Premiership South and enter the quarter-finals of the BUCS Cup.
Player of the Match: Elmarie van Heerden (Lady Margaret Hall)