Oxford 48 Cambridge 10
For the first time in nearly five years, Reserve Grade Varsity took place between the Oxford and Cambridge 2nd XIIIs on a fresh February evening at Shelford RFC. Having had a very strong season in both the league and cup, the Maroons were favourites over Cambridge 2s coming into the game, but with conditions allowing for some fast-paced rugby and with both sides geed up on Varsity adrenaline there was everything to play for.
The first half belonged to Oxford who ran in 30 points without an answer on the scoreboard from Cambridge. Tries from Jonny Wood, Aron Hegedus and Harry Williams (amongst others) capped off strong attacking shape from the Maroons whilst Martin and Harris put in excellent defensive efforts to keep Cambridge from crossing the try line.
However, with the half time whistle and the dipping of the sun below the horizon, the momentum shifted in Cambridge’s favour who capitalised on lapses in discipline by the Oxford defence. Powerful runs from Sam White carried the Cambridge side into touching distance of the try-line, before the attacking physicality of Cambridge proved too much for Oxford as the ball was bundled over the line. Despite a further goal-line scramble from the light-blues to take them to double figures and depleted resources on the Maroon’s bench, Oxford were able to regroup, playing with the attacking shape and defensive discipline that had given them the lead at half time. With a set of 3 converted tries to finish the game, Oxford won the half and with that the 2018 Reserve Grade Varsity in an encouraging advert for rugby league at both universities that will no doubt get the excitement going for the 1st XIII Varsity at the HAC in March.
Man of the Match: Bageaux Martin