A frustratingly narrow defeat at ‘the other place’
On Wednesday evening the Dark Blues made the trek from Iffley to the other place, Grange Road.
During the intense build-up to the Varsity Match, the Women’s Blues must take on Cambridge twice as part of the BUCS league, and last week saw us face them for the first time this season.
With Cambridge coming back stronger from their near-relegation last season, and being a few points ahead of us in the league, we anticipated that this was not going to be an easy match. We arrived at Grange Road ready for a fight, and a fight is what we gave them. Oxford quickly turned over the ball from our kick off, and proceeded to push the light blues deeper and deeper into their own half. Our fullback Emma Jones – an ex-Cambridge player who has since joined the dark-blue side – made an excellent run, dodging tackles from her old teammates to bring Oxford up to their 22. This play paved the way nicely for number 8 Lauren Webb to score the first try for Oxford within minutes, which was successfully converted by our number 10 Stella Farmer.
Photo credit: Chris Fell
Webb’s luck unfortunately ran out soon after this, receiving a (debatably) yellow card, which also awarded Cambridge their first try, and something to fuel their fans’ chants for the next 10 minutes. The Dark Blues kept our heads up, and a brilliant break from number 9 Alex Wilkinson provided us our second try. Cambridge then quickly broke the line and scored again, and began to gradually dominate the attack until they were a dangerous 12-21 up at half time.
The second half saw Oxford come back stronger, with a hunger for victory fuelling the attack. The Dark Blues pressured the opposition into making errors that allowed us to monopolize the second half. Alex Wilkinson took a quick tap from a penalty that led her all the way to the Cambridge’s try line, and suddenly we were back in the game. After a few minutes of slow play, a pivotal ball was shipped out to Blues winger Lily Phillips, who on her first match back after nearly 2 years of injury, carried the team deep into the Cambridge half, offloading to Lauren Webb around the 22 to give Oxford our next try. With the score now 26-21 to Oxford, the last 20 minutes of the game were by far the most intense. After a while of the ball being shipped back and forth between the two sides, with multiple turnovers and scrums from both teams, the Cambridge number 8 eventually broke through our defensive line to touch the ball down under the posts. The conversion was fatal for the Dark Blues, who held off the Cambridge attack in those final minutes, but didn’t manage to regain possession. At the full-time whistle the score was a devastatingly narrow 26-28 to the light Blues.
Photo credit: Chris Fell
Cambridge only scored once in the second half, but it cost us the game. Oxford left Grange Road with heads held high, and the words from coach Lee at the forefront of our minds: “They have won the battle, but they have not won the war.”