Cambridge Women’s Blues 12-31 Oxford Women’s Blues
Oxford power through a scrumIzzy Poles

A magnificent performance from Oxford winger Clodagh Holmes ensured that the Dark Blues avenged last year’s defeat to retake the Varsity crown.

Cambridge captain Millie Bushrod scored the first try, picking up the ball after a breakdown and running through a gaping hole in the Oxford defence to score beside the posts. The try was converted cooly by former footballer Polly Hipkiss.

Oxford got a try back after 14 minutes. Charging down a Hipkiss kick after a lineout, Oxford switched the play twice to open up a huge gap on the left flank. Holmes happily ran through the gap, and scored in the corner. This left Iona Bennett with a tough angle for the kick, and she missed the conversion. In and end to end game, tighthead prop Grace Izinyon responded for Cambridge with a powerful drive over the try line. The shot putter used her strength well to flatten several Oxford defenders on her way to the line. Hipkiss hit the post on her conversion attempt.

Despite impressive attacks from Rosemary Scowen and Izinyon, gaps persited on Cambridge’s left flank. A desperate high tackle from outside-centre Laura Vass meant she was sinbinned 5 mins before halftime. Holmes got a second try for Oxford two minutes into the second half after Oxford pressure stretched the Cambridge backline again, making use of the gap created by Vass’ absence. This was a warning for Cambridge, but Bennett had not yet found her shooting boots and missed the conversion.

This could have spelled disaster for Oxford in a tight game, but their scrum-half Alex Wilkinson scored just minutes after, as Cambridge were slow to respond to a quick turn and go. It was after this that Bennett’s luck turned. From virtually the same angle as the previous kick, she cut across the ball to send the ball skimming through the swirling wind, and through the middle of the posts. Relief was clearly visible on her face, as Oxford were buoyed by their fantastic start to the second half.


Mountain View

Captain's Corner: Women's Rugby

The Dark Blues were now clearly the side with the greater momentum. Their captain, Lauren Webb, intercepted a Cambridge lineout, and Oxford retained possession to slowly crush Cambridge hopes of a comeback. These hopes were surely extinguished when Holmes got her hattrick 58 minutes in. Webb was again at the heart of the action, as she helped Oxford progress forward before switching the play quickly to the wing. There, Holmes waited and galloped over the line for her third try of the match. The try was converted again by Bennett from a similar angle on the left wing.

If Holmes’ third try was a team effort, her fourth was a solo play of epic proportions. She drove from her own half through the midfield, and then past Cambridge back Nancy Twigg to score. The Oxford winger ran 60m to score, and her imperious pace was a microcosm of Oxford’s second-half dominance. The try was converted again by Bennett, who was now in magnificent form herself.

After a scrappy ten minutes as Cambridge sought a consolation try (during which Oxford’s Hannah Riches was yellow-carded for pulling Izinyon’s hair), Oxford thought they had scored a sixth try. Fly-half Chloe-Marie Hawley thought she’d scored but it was scrubbed off after Webb was adjudged by the TMO to have passed the ball forward. The disallowed try did not make any difference to the overall result, and Oxford won 31-12.

Varsity Player Of The Match: Clodagh Holmes (Oxford)