JCR Women’s Football
New Women 3
Somerville Women 0
After Somerville 2nds rather humiliating 16-0 defeat last weekend, Somerville 1sts clearly had something to prove. Fearing the might of the New College squad just 3 leagues below them the Somerville Captain limited their availability to Saturday at the same time as the OUWAFC football training in a vindictive effort to remove half of New’s team.
New’s ten man squad was therefore dwarfed by a Somerville team that not only had subs but also a coach, a referee and a linesman in what was an unprecedented show of support from Some of an earlier agreement to play the match with reduced numbers on each side, Somerville’s captain was reluctant to make good this promise in person. Barely had 5 minutes been played when New College’s star winger-come-Mathematician, Amy Bond shouted in disgust that Somerville had 11 players on the pitch – turns out a maths degree is useful after all.
Any early bets would certainly have gone Somerville’s way as New found themselves severely under pressure for much of the first half. Only the safe hands of keeper Emily Benn and a tackle from Captain Robyn Parody, so good that even the referee mentioned it, kept New in the game.
A fantastic counter attack from New paid off as Meg Goulding opened the scoring for the visitors and tensions ran high as a clear handball from Somerville’s defence went unnoticed by the referee in an unambiguous attempt to even out some of the more questionable decisions from last weeks game.
New’s tenacity paid off when in the second half they were joined by eleventh player and lynchpin of the midfield Liz Betterbed. The chances kept coming for New as Somerville failed to mount a meaningful attack on goal. The final scoreline of 0-3 is further evidence that performance in the league means nothing when it comes to the unpredictability of the Cuppers competition.
Oxford Blues Rugby Friendly
Oxford Blues 17
Cardiff Blues 22
After disappointing fans with an opening fixture rout at the hands of a rampant London Wasps the onus was on Oxford to give an expectant crowd something to shout about. Athough maybe not quite as strong as London Wasps, Oxford still came up against a stern test in their welsh namesakes the Cardiff Blues.
The opening to the game was not quite as fluid as the opening fixture and the gulf in class not quite so obvious. Some scrappy midfield play and needless penalties led to the eventual exchange of kicks at goal. Cardiff made the breakthrough and scored the first try of the night midway through the first half, some quick passing moved the ball out to the wing and an excellent finish gave Cardiff some early breathing space. However, with the resultant conversion missed, Oxford still had a way back into the match before half time. Indeed they did just that just before the break with eventual man of the match Louis Mather scoring the opening try of the night for the Blues. This optimism was short lived and another quick score from Cardiff saw them lead 14-10 at the break.
The second half did not see quite so much action; the two teams were fairly evenly matched. Oxford Blues scored the early try, but a penalty from Cardiff meant that the scores were level at 17-17 going into the last five minutes. Unfortunately for Blues a late lapse in concentration led to a score which put a dampener on a much improved performance as Cardiff ran out eventual winners 22-17.
JCR Football Premier Division
Christ Church 4
St Hilda’s 1
Premier Division champions Christ Church defeated a resilient St. Hilda’s team 4-1 to progress to the second round of Cuppers. Hilda’s play in college football’s lowest tier, but impressively overcame the gulf in league positions to hold the favourites at half-time, 1-1.
ChCh took a lead after 25 minutes, fresher and new Blue Zander Whitehurst capitalizing on some confused defending: after their goal, the home side settled into a skilful rhythm, working the wings and creating plenty of scoring opportunities. Captain Chris Wallwork’s new-look 4-3-3 was, in his own humble words, ‘a tactical masterclass of a decision’. Complacency began to creep, though, and Hilda’s tenacious perseverance was rewarded; an incisive through-ball split a usually watertight defence, assisting a neat finish that deftly beat the Christ Church goalkeeper.
Anything can happen in the unpredictable maelstrom of a Cuppers match, and the 2nd half began with a palpable shift of momentum: Hilda’s attacked with pace and power for a dominant 5 minute period before ChCh were able to reassert their superiority. The span in quality shone through as legs soon tired, with Whitehurst’s second goal, a low drive, killing off the Hilda’s comeback. The House added a further two goals as the match wore away, one from a stunning passage of possession at the hour mark, and another from a clear, indisputable penalty.
Remarkably for a team that has been such a dominant powerhouse in recent times, this was Christ Church’s first Cuppers victory in 3 years. Richard Bath, a stalwart 4th year midfielder, is the lone witness from that last win: ‘To triumph in another Cuppers game means the world to me, it really does. A deep run in the competition before my retirement would cap a great career. We’ve won the league, and now we’re hungry to taste success again.’