Oxford University Women 0, Cambridge University Women 24

OXFORD University tasted defeat in the 31st Women’s Varsity Match as Cambridge University ran in four tries at Twickenham.

The Dark Blues were unable to hold on to their title as they were forced to defend for large parts of the annual fixture.

Jess Gurney, Lara Gibson, Kate Marks and Bluebell Nicholls crossed as Cambridge deservedly claimed victory.

Neither side looked like breaking the deadlock in an error-strewn first half where the torrential wet weather was causing a number of handling problems.

But the match opened up eight minutes before the break.

An incisive move from Oxford’s Abby D’Cruz opened up space for Violet Smart on the right, but the winger fumbled.

The Dark Blues were made to pay as they were forced to defend their try-line in the final moments of the half.

Cambridge centre Mary Coleman was twice stopped short, before hooker Gurney swivelled to dot down on 39 minutes, Alice Middleton converting.

Moments later it was 14-0 as Gibson outpaced the Oxford backline to collect Middleton’s kick and cross unopposed under the posts.

Middleton added the extras to give the Light Blues a commanding looking half-time lead.

The rain continued and Cambridge picked up from where they left off.

Errors continued to hinder both sides, but the Light Blues were dominating territory.

Cambridge extended their lead to 19 points on 66 minutes when Marks picked up and drove over from a scrum.

Oxford could not get out of their half and scrum half Pat Metcalfe-Jones brilliantly denied Emily Pratt.

But the Light Blues crossed again with eight minutes to go as Nicholls dotted down in the corner for an unconverted try.

The match was over as a contest, with Oxford forced to keep their rampant opponents at bay late on as they endured a disappointing day.

Oxford University: Trott, Smart, Simpson, Bunting, D’Cruz, Dombrowski, Metcalfe-Jones, Ellender, Bidgood, Odgers, Haste, Collis, Cooper, McArdle, Behan. Reps: Cartwright, Leong, Matte-Gregory, Male, Rees, Mingay, Fenwick, Bamber.

Cambridge University: Middleton, Farrant, Gibson, Coleman, Nicholls, Donaldson, Marks, Orriss, Gurney, Banner, Elgar, Nunez-Mulder, F Shuttleworth, Withers, Pratt. Reps: Pierce, Chan, McCoig,, Bramley, Spruzen, J Shuttleworth, Graves, Gimson.

SOPHIE Behan could not hide her disappointment as Oxford University suffered a 24-0 defeat to Cambridge University in the 31st Women’s Varsity Match.

The Dark Blues put in a battling performance at Twickenham, but they were unable to stop their opponents scoring four tries in a fixture marred by torrential rain.

There was nothing between the sides for the majority of the first half, but two scores in as many minutes from Jess Gurney and Lara Gibson put Cambridge 14-0 ahead.

Oxford were unable to put pressure on the Light Blues defence after the break and conceded twice more as Kate Marks and Bluebell Nicholls went over.

Dark Blues captain Behan, who was playing in her final Varsity Match, cut a dejected figure.

She said: ”I don’t think the game got away from us. 

“We’re proud of the fact we kept going this year, it was not one-sided like it was two years ago (a 52-0 defeat).

“We came back again and again and I’m really proud of my team for doing that.”

Behan added: ”At the end we stood in the huddle and I was overwhelmed and upset, but I knew everyone had my back the whole 80 minutes. 

“To come off the pitch and for there to be hundreds of people there supporting is an overwhelming feeling and I don’t think I will ever experience that again.”