The Blues held a 20-point lead for most of the fourth quarter, largely as a result of goal-shooter Clodagh Bottomley’s prolific scoringDik Ng/DKNGPhotography

Cambridge University Ladies Netball Club (CULNC) defeated second-placed Nottingham 2 at the University Sports Centre on Wednesday afternoon (02/02), winning by a score of 53-32.

Going into the matchup, the Blues were coming off the back of a tight 46-43 victory over Worcester 2 last week (26/01), while Nottingham had not played since December when they beat Birmingham 4 50-29. Neither side, however, had faced each other in the league, making it unknown territory for both squads.

With Cambridge’s Rachel Mercer taking the first centre pass and getting the game underway, the home side rocketed into an early lead through the fruitful attacking play of front pairing Zoë Starbuck and Clodagh Bottomley, with a particularly great battle taking shape between Bottomley and the Nottingham goal-keeper.

After five minutes on the clock, Cambridge found themselves 5-1 up, putting in a far more aggressive performance than last time out. Blues goal-keeper Fenna Agnew and wing-defence Tabbie Brough were producing some brilliant interceptions and setting the tone of play in the backcourt.

Rachel Mercer put in a solid performance, controlling the mid-court with easeDik Ng/DKNGPhotography

Nottingham were markedly adopting a more high-risk style of passing than Cambridge, but the Blues were managing to nail the basics and get bodies in and around the goal circle to feed Starbuck and Bottomley. A great lob pass from captain Millie Quayle to Bottomley made it 12-7 with just two minutes left of a quarter that eventually ended 14-8.

Recognising their own lack of fluidity, Nottingham’s team talk saw the captain flag up: “We’re getting stuck”, partly a consequence of game-day rustiness but also Cambridge’s unrelenting pressure.

An unchanged Blues side continued to get the better of their opponent, with Bottomley doing well against a lively goal-keeper and often managing to get the roll on her. At the other end, goal-defence Thea Krumins found herself struggling on the boards against a physically strong attacker, but Agnew’s dominance paid dividends in terms of keeping the away shooters at bay.

With the score reading 24-13 at the halfway point of the second quarter, Bottomley was playing with a smile on her face and deservedly so, as the goal-shooter was simply unstoppable. Her prolific shooting was supported well by Starbuck’s efficiency in the circle, making for a dynamic pair that ultimately overwhelmed the Nottingham defenders.

30-16 posted itself on the scoreboard come the half-time buzzer, with the Blues stretching a comfortable lead thanks to the hot hand of Bottomley and multiple dimes of Quayle and Mercer. Nottingham were largely the victim of their own unforced errors yet equally came up against a Cambridge side that were firing on all cylinders on both ends of the court.

Coming out of the half-time break, Nottingham shuffled various players around in search of a solution, but to little avail. Continued dominance from Bottomley under the net saw the Blues push their advantage out to 37-18 with ten minutes left in the third.

CULNC President and goal-keeper Fenna Agnew was unstoppable on the defensive endDik Ng/DKNGPhotography

Meanwhile, substitute Astrid Williams, who’s also captain of CULNC’s second team, the Jays, made her mark on the defensive end with immediate effect, coming up with two great interceptions in quick succession to deny Nottingham any slim chance of revival.

As Cambridge hit 40 with five minutes left on the third-quarter clock, Nottingham couldn’t even buy a goal, largely due to the impeccable defensive work of Agnew and Williams. Flirting with maintaining their 20-point lead in the time just before the buzzer, Cambridge went into the final period 45-26 to the good.

The fourth quarter proved more of the same from Quayle’s side, with Agnew taking a well-earned rest on the bench yet continuing her communicative prowess. Bottomley broke 50 for her side with little time left on the clock and, although some naturally expected errors crept into the Cambridge side’s play, went on to see the game out at 53-32.


Mountain View

Women’s netball Blues defeat Worcester 46-43

Speaking after the game, captain Quayle embraced her side’s victory with open arms: “This was a huge win for the Blues. There were a few nerves going into this match, but from the moment the first whistle blew I knew we were going to have a good game. We played with confidence, we fought hard, and we gave it our hall - I couldn’t ask for more from the team!”

Quayle also spoke on a couple of notable individual performances in the squad: “I’d like to give a special mention to Astrid [Williams], who stepped in to help us out after a few injuries. She had a super game and was fearless in defence. She was the Captain’s Player of the Match today.” Quayle continued: “Congratulations also to Clodagh [Bottomley], who was voted MVP by Nottingham and put on a great show against a very challenging GK.”

Varsity MVP: Millie Quayle


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

Finishers: Caitlin Reilly, Astrid Williams, Kate Lee

Nottingham 2: Unconfirmed

Looking ahead, the Blues will take on Nottingham 2 once again next Wednesday (09/02), but this time in a quarter-final knockout match as part of the Midlands Conference Cup.