A closely-fought clash in Wednesday’s Bucs game against Cambridge ended in heartbreak for the Women’s netball Blues.
The game was level-pegging right up until the final quarter, but a late push from the visitors saw Oxford edged out 44-42.However, with key players set to return in time for the all-important Varsity clash later this term, the Dark Blues could take plenty of positives from their performance.
The Blues came into their match facing significant team disruption. With Emily Ostridge and Laura Hindley out for this game, and Catherine Lavender out for the rest of the season, the Blues had just one sub, and an untried starting line-up.
Those on the sideline unaware of this, however, would not have noticed: Oxford were quick out of the blocks, and up by three after the first five minutes. Though initially pegged back by Cambridge, the momentum continued to swing in Oxford’s favour, helped by tips and intercepts from Izzy Picton-Turbervill and Kirsty McCann, in goal defence and goal keeper respectively.
Incisive feeding from Isa Cooper, helped by an almost-telepathic connectionwith captain Elsa Wakeman, saw the shooting circle open-up to Oxford’s advantage. It was neck-and-neck at the end of the first fifteen minutes.
With the start of the second quarter came the real test. Oxford had started well, but could they be consistent? Both Ellen O’Brien, playing her first game in the Blues, and Becca Annells, playing out of her preferred position, led from the front and made vital contributions in the attacking end. Cambridge came out with renewed energy, making a key substitution at goal attack to swing the momentum back into their favour.
Half-time saw Hannah Danbury enter the game at goal defence, and she quickly made her mark, with excellent rebounds and direct attacking play. The second-half also proved to be the time to shine for wing defence Cat Ellis, who picked up key interceptions around the circle edge, stifling Cambridge’s attack. 32-32 at the third-quarter whistle. The Oxford team had given the game everything they had, and just needed to find that little bit extra to bring the game home.
But despite the Dark Blues’ valiant effort, Cambridge nicked a turnover late on to make the final score 44-42. Though it was an anguishing end to the game, the confi dence gained from this performance with Varsity just a few weeks away will be invaluable.
Those in need of any more convincing that netball is fast, furious, and at times, nail-bitingly tense, should get themselves to Iffley on Sunday 25th February. After Wednesday’s game, Varsity looks set to be an exhibition of high-quality and free-flowing netball.