Cambridge triumphed in a hard-fought battleBEN PHILLIPS

Last Saturday (14/05) saw the Oxford Lancers team travel to Grange Road to take on their Cambridge compatriots in the 15th edition of the Varsity Bowl. 

Oxford came into the game with confidence after an undefeated regular season. Cambridge, however, were reeling from a bruising loss to Greenwich University that caused them to miss out on the playoffs. Coincidentally, Greenwich later knocked Oxford out of contention in the later stages of the competition.

The sun was scorching as the two teams met on what can only be described as a carpet: the Grange Road rugby pitch. Some water would have made it feel like the beach.

Both teams struggled to get the ball moving on their first drives, with Cambridge bravely attempting a fake punt from midfield, which was stifled a few yards short. Towards the end of the first quarter, Oxford took the lead as their running back sped into the endzone. Oxford missed the conversion.

From then on, the first half was a cagey affair, with both teams missing field goal attempts. Cambridge fought hard for some excellent runs but Oxford’s defense held resolute to send the game to half-time at 6-0. 

Oxford scored again with the return on Cambridge’s kickoff to start the second half to double their lead. However, the Lancers were tiring in the heat and began to make mistakes. 

Early in the fourth quarter, Tim Andrew took the ball in for his first Pythons touchdown and Daniel Starkey kicked the extra point to cut the deficit to five points, at 12-7. Major injuries were hurting the Pythons’ defense as Oxford charged down the field, but an important stand on fourth down gave possession back to the offense. From there, Andrew took the ball almost the length of the field to give Cambridge their first lead of the game. 

Oxford failed to do anything of note in their final possessions of the game, as a sack on fourth down deep within Oxford’s half assured the victory in a great send off for those playing their final game for the team.

Celebrations on the pitch were pretty sweaty and dazed, but remained classy. The trophy has been restored to its rightful place on President Starkey’s bedroom shelf. This comes, in no small part, with thanks to the fans who came down to support and the coaches for putting in their time this season.

Varsity MVP: Joel Camara (Cambridge)