This week the Women’s Blues faced their toughest outfit of the 23/24 BUCS season, Brunel University. Brunel’s programme provides a premiership pathway for young women, partnered with our captain’s Premiership team Ealing Trailfinders, and it’s safe to say they played like it. Indeed, the Oxford Blues knew from the start that this would be an uphill battle, but a battle it was. Merely looking at the 60-7 score line doesn’t reflect the incredible fight put up by the women in dark blue, and the way they fiercely challenged a team who weren’t expecting one.
The first quarter of this match was, according to Oxford’s coach, and Captain Sophie Shams, “the best 20 minutes of rugby” this team has played all season. Even the opposition came over to congratulate the Blues on their incredible start to the game. From an excellent kick off taken by no.10 Stella Farmer, which was immediately knocked forward by Brunel, Oxford had the other team pinned in their own half for a considerable amount of time. It was only when Brunel’s no.11 made a break on the wing around 20 minutes in that the Blues conceded. Heads high and chins up, the Blues marched onwards and continued playing their own game, forcing errors in the opposition with their quick defence, and a line speed that was improving under the orders of the captain as the game went on. Number 8 Lauren Webb made some excellent breaks through the yellow shirt’s forward defence, carrying the Blues into the opposition’s 22. Here, we had various opportunities to score, and were just held short by Brunel defence. Then some crafty turnovers and a couple of missed tackles from Brunel gave them a few more tries in the first half. But, as the half-time whistle approached, Oxford’s defence took to pressuring Brunel’s backs into touch, limiting their abilities on the wing. 32-0 down at half time, Oxford still with more to give.
The second half started off wobbly with an immediate try from Brunel, forcing the Blues to wake up fight back, which is exactly what they did. Chasing up Farmer’s kicks, Oxford once again pinned the yellow shirts in their own 22, this time thanks to an exceptional break from Lauren Webb, who refused to be tackled by several Brunel defenders. Oxford continued to push forwards, moving closer and closer to the white line with immense effort from the forward pack. Our number 6 Lauren Preece scored her first try for the Blues from a quick pick and go, in a triumphant moment for Oxford, with Brunel’s defence unable to hold her up. Converted by Stella Farmer, the final score came to 60-7, after Brunel ultimately managed to outpace the Oxford and score from several line breaks.
According to Brunel’s analysis, Oxford entered their opposition’s 22m line a total of 9 times, whilst Brunel invades Oxford’s a total of 13 – a very impressive statistic against a team used to not conceding at all.
Player of the match goes to Lauren Webb for her unremitting effort, her clear-outs at the ruck and various line breaks, one of which led us to scoring.