Oxford Snatch Dramatic Victory

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Varsity Women’s Rugby
Oxford 10 – 7 Cambridge For women’s rugby in Oxford, 2004 was a special year, as both
the Blues and Panthers recorded wins on the same day in their
Varsity matches and for the first time won in every encounter
with the Tabs in league and Varsity fixtures. The 17th women’s Blues Varsity match was a sweet victory
for Oxford, having been narrowly defeated in the previous two
encounters. Oxford won the trophy from Cambridge in a
closelyfought game which ended 10-7, tipping the series even
further in the Dark direction – now fourteen wins to
Cambridge’s three. For much of the first half there was little between the teams,
although Oxford had the best of the possession showing
considerably more flair in their game than Cambridge. Relentless
work by lock Charl Harris and the other forwards to retain and
steal possession meant the backs were provided with good ball
which halfbacks Laura McMullen and Rebecca Young exploited well. Following some powerful runs by centre Chris Liciaga and prop
Kate Chidgey, it was only right that shortly before half-time, it
was Oxford who scored first, as full-back Bethan Walsh completed
a penetrating backs move to put the Dark Blues five points clear
before the break. However, the breath-taking speed of the Cambridge full-back
took Oxford by surprise early in the second half, and the Light
Blues ran in an impressive try between the posts, allowing for an
easy conversion which gave them a two point lead. Obviously upset
by this affront, the heavens opened and unleashed a stream of
painful hail on the players which obscured the markings on the
pitch and caused numerous handling errors on both sides as the
pitch became slow and filthy; perfect for the forwards game which
ensued. The Oxford set plays remained solid, with No 8 Jess Gretton
exherting some impressive control. Oxford maintained pressure on
the Cambridge line for around 20 minutes and when the visitors
managed to kick clear, it seemed the chances of an Oxford revival
had disappeared and heads began to drop in the exhausting
conditions. Despite the loss of inspirational captain Zahler Bryan and
prop Katie Smith to injury, the arrival of the fresh legs of
Claire Ferguson and Lizzie Hardwick gave Oxford renewed
determination. In the 76th minute combination of powerful
forwards play and slick backs hands allowed lock Rosie Collins to
push over, regaining a winning three point advantage for the Dark
Blues. Man-of-the- match was awarded to Kate Chidgey on the
occasion of her third Blue. This was the first televised women’s Varsity match, and
with the level of skill on display, one can only hope that the
profile of women’s rugby within, and beyond the university
will rise further. The Panthers had taken to the field earlier in the morning,
and, despite having lost thier entire front row with the game
only twenty minutes old, secured a hard-fought 10-0 win over the
Cambridge second team thanks to tries by scrum-half Sarah-Jane
Hogg and inside centre Helen Taylor. They now lead their ARCHIVE: 0th week TT 2004

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