Now that fourth week is upon us and term is very nearly reaching its halfway stage, here at Cherwell Sport we feel it’s worth catching up on how the Blues and Roos of Oxford University Netball Club have fared in the start of their respective seasons. The Blues are competing in the Midlands 1A division of British Universities & College Sport (BUCS) while the Roos are currently battling it out in Midlands 3B, and both teams will be hoping that they can maintain their promising early performances for the duration of the campaign.
The Blues welcomed Nottingham 1sts to Oxford for their opening game of the season in 1st Week, and managed to come away with a hard-fought victory, edging past the Midlanders 45-41. With the match in the balance going into the final quarter, excellent defensive performances by Ailsa Keyser and Beth Nichol, as well as some inspired shooting by Libby Stephens ensured that the Blues took all the points. Meanwhile, the inaugural set of fixtures in the Midlands 3B division pitted the Roos against arch-rivals Cambridge; after a close start, the Roos pulled away in the second quarter and eventually recorded a comfortable 41-30 win, earning bragging rights over the Tabs for the time being.
Both the Blues and the Roos continued their impressive unbeaten starts as the season entered its 2nd week. The Blues made the journey to Bedfordshire to take on their first team and seemed still to be half asleep after the long trek as they got off to a slow start, finding themselves 6 goals down as the first half came to a close. However after some tactical tweaking Oxford slowly got back into the game and began to capitalise on Bedford’s mistakes; masterful shooting when it was most needed by Natalie Redgrave helped the Blues on their way to an excellent comeback victory, overcoming a dejected Bedford side 51-45. As for the Roos, they ensured that a second Nottingham-based side would leave the fortress of Iffley Road Sports Hall empty-handed in as many weeks, trouncing Nottingham Trent 3rds 31-16.
Week 3 ended in disappointment for both of Oxford’s netball sides. The Blues faced sporting giants Loughborough at home and succumbed to a 39-50 scoreline which did not reflect the true nature of the game. A close nailbiter throughout, Loughborough held a slender lead for the majority of the game, but the Blues’ admirable work ethic, especially from Liz Murray in the first half and Charlotte Rogers in the second, kept the rate of turnover high. Ultimately, however, mistakes and poor decision-making in attack let the side down, as Loughborough played a sleek and fast game to capitalise on Oxford’s errors in the final quarter, condemning the Blues to their first defeat of the season. Elsewhere, the Roos travelled to Lincoln for their third game of the season. Despite an encouraging start, they never really got going, as a tight-knit and polished Lincoln side took advantage of the Roos’ tiredness to claim a convincing 50-21 win.
Speaking to Cherwell Sport, OUNC Club Captain Sascha Eady summed up the first few weeks of the campaign: ‘I’m so happy with the amazing start both squads have had to the season. The attitude and determination of the girls in training and on court has clearly delivered results. After a disappointing third week, we’re desperate to make up for this minor blip in performance and are keen to get back in action this Wednesday. The Blues take on newly promoted Nottingham Trent, whilst the Roos get gritty in a local derby against Oxford Brookes – I’m confident for yet another double win!’
The two sides of Oxford University Netball Club can look back at the start of their seasons with pride and satisfaction, losing just one game and playing excellent netball. With the Blues and Roos hoping to bounce back this week as they seek to get their campaigns back on track, both squads are confident that their respective campaigns will ultimately prove to be successful.