The Blues scored an impressive sixteen goals in the fourth quarter to secure the winKane Smith/

Cambridge University Ladies Netball Club (CULNC) Blues came out on top against Worcester 2 yesterday afternoon (26/01), winning by a narrow score of 46-43 at the University of Cambridge Sports Centre.

Before the fixture, the two sides met last Wednesday (19/01) in their first games of the new year. The Blues edged a nail-biting 47-46 victory, with Clodagh Bottomley taking CULNC’s MVP award.

Turning to the most recent matchup, a fast opening from the Blues saw the home side stretch an 8-4 lead after five minutes, but some sloppy passing from both teams stunted any real flow of momentum. Despite Cambridge’s Rachel Mercer producing flashes of tenacity from centre position at both ends of the court, the Blues struggled to find their rhythm early on.

Captain Millie Quayle’s attempts to rile up her side were soon drowned out by the hammering shots of Worcester’s shooters, forcing Cambridge to work hard to stay ahead as the quarter approached its conclusion.

With three minutes left of the first, Worcester edged in front by making it 9-8. Cambridge goal-attack Caitlin Reilly mustered a short-lived response ahead of the buzzer to keep the Blues within one, but to little avail as the break came with Worcester 11-10 to the good.

“One, two, three, Blues” chorused around the court to mark the beginning of the second quarter. Cambridge really started to hustle now their backs were up against the wall, with Mercer and substitute Zoë Starbuck pulling the strings further up, along with some solid early-quarter shooting from Reilly in the goal shooter position, to even the score at 12-12 after 150 seconds.

Captain Millie Quayle orchestrated the Cambridge attacks with her deadly passingKane Smith/

Despite taking the lead five minutes in through yet another goal from Reilly, Cambridge struggled to make things stick, allowing Worcester to creep back in front at 14-13. 

Halfway through the second quarter, Cambridge soon found themselves in a shooting rut, often failing to convert their chances in both the goal circle and ring. Reilly was narrowly missing the mark going into the final five minutes of the period, but found a glimpse of form to conclude the first half with three goals in a row and put the Blues 20-18 up.

Although Cambridge were the more agile and quicker of the two teams going into the break, Worcester’s tendency to keep it fast and simple on the counter proved a constant threat to the home side.

Heading into quarter three, Reilly took to the bench and was replaced by Clodagh Bottomley at goal shooter, who made an immediate impact with a conversion and impressive interception. Yet for all of Bottomley’s energy, Worcester’s shooters came out the blocks in an unbelievable fashion, putting their side up 23-22 in just four minutes of play.

Cambridge’s shooting woes continued in the early minutes of the third, while Worcester stretched their lead out to 27-22 with nine minutes left of the quarter.

Some much-needed stability in the attacking third paid off for the Blues, however, as they pulled the score back to 30-33 at the sound of the buzzer. But with Worcester’s shooters firing on all cylinders, the final fifteen was shaping up to be a tough one for Cambridge.

Well-taken passing from Quayle and Bottomley’s solid shooting set the tone for Cambridge’s fourth quarter, rifling them into a 35-34 lead almost immediately.

Clodagh Bottomley enjoyed an excellent spell of shooting in the final quarterKane Smith/

Bottomley found her hot hand as the quarter progressed, as she made it 38-36 off the back of eight-straight conversions. Meanwhile, Fenna Agnew was kickstarting some brilliant link-up play coming out of the backcourt.

Quayle continued her excellent passing display as the Blues hit 40 to Worcester’s 37, with the captain making life easier for shooter’s Bottomley and Starbuck.

A late spark of comeback looked ready to be set alight as the Worcester shooters pulled the score back to 41-40 with less than five to go, however an outstanding mid-range shot from Starbuck that took nothing but net stifled the away side’s brief revival.


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In the dying embers of the game, Cambridge managed to extend their lead by four over Worcester, as the travelling outfit found themselves getting opened up quite easily by the pinpoint dimes from Quayle coolly converted by Bottomley.

At the sound of the final buzzer, the Blues left the court with a well-earned 46-42 victory, scoring a remarkable sixteen goals in the fourth quarter. Although the Blues never really looked to be at their best throughout the majority of the game, they managed to chip away at a weaker Worcester side and, most importantly, keep them at bay when it mattered most. An incredible shooting performance from Bottomley late on sealed the league points and also maintained Cambridge’s unbeaten record.

Varsity’s MVP: Clodagh Bottomley

Looking ahead, the Women’s Blues will face Nottingham 2 next Wednesday (02/02) at the Sports Centre, as they hope to keep their winning form alive.


Cambridge Blues: Fenna Agnew (GK), Thea Krumins (GD), Tabbie Brough (WD, vice-captain), Rachel Mercer (C), Mille Quayle (WA, captain), Caitlin Reilly (GA), Clodagh Bottomley (GS)

Finishers: Zoë Starbuck, Libby Bryant

Worcester 2: Unconfirmed