Match Reports

Netball 1
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Blues ease to victory over Birmingham to top league

The Blues netball team entertained the University of Birmingham at Iffley Road on Bonfire Night, emerging as comfortable victors in a thoroughly entertaining game.

Both teams headed into the fixture knowing a win would send them to the top of the BUCS Midlands 2A league. Oxford started the brighter, with their high intensity play forcing early mistakes from Birmingham; the Blues were rewarded with a brace of goals in the opening 5 minutes. The remainder of the first quarter was a cagey affair, until a flurry of goals just prior to the interval culminated in Oxford going into the break with a healthy 7-4 lead.

The second quarter began with the visitors on the front foot and, despite a heroic goal-saving interception from goalkeeper Keyser, Birmingham would score first to put them within 2 of Oxford. This seemed to rouse the Oxford team, and any threat of a comeback was soon put to bed with some brilliant approach play leading to 3 quick-fire goals for the Blues. With Murray, Coe and Rogers controlling the game, Oxford could have been out of site if not for the clinical finishing of the Birmingham goal shooter. 13-7 at half-time; Birmingham just within touching distance.

They wouldn’t be for long – the 3rd quarter turned into a goal-fest for Oxford. The astoundingly high energy levels of their back line saw almost every Birmingham attack snuffed out. The eagerness of goal defence Dixon to swiftly turn defence into attack led to a plethora of goal-scoring opportunities for goal attack Fries and shooter Faull. Faull in particular was in imperious form, and her near-perfect rate of conversion meant Oxford ended the quarter having doubled their goal tally: 26-13 to Oxford.

Oxford continued to assert their superiority throughout the final quarter, in-keeping with the professional performance they had put on thus far. Keyser was immense at the back, Murray incisive in the centre, and Fries unsympathetic in attack. Oxford extended their lead by another three before the final whistle.

FINAL SCORE: Oxford 35-19 Birmingham. The Blues sit top of the league 3 points clear of 2nd placed Birmingham.

Team: Ailsa Keyser, Harriet Dixon, Mia Coe, Liz Murray (c), Charlotte Rogers, Anna Fries, Liv Faull.

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RAF Defeated By Blues In Full Flight

Oxford 36 – 16 RAF
OURFC recording a convincing victory over the RAF at Iffley Road this week. For some time the RAF looked set to capitalise on a sluggish Oxford, quickly picking up a penalty three points from Andy Byrne. However, Oxford counterattacked with an impressive run from Matt Janney (Oriel) followed by an offload to Jacob Taylor (Keble) to finish between the posts, and summarily converting his own try. The Airmen followed close on the heels of the score with a penalty of their own from Bryne, which was left unanswered until near on half-time when OURFC demonstrated some classic close play from the forwards, with St. Peter’s Zandy Macdonald taking the ball at 8 from a well driven scrum and scoring, with Taylor again in good form for the conversion.
At the outset of the second half, the RAF were struggling under the weight of two yellow cards, and Oxford began to press the advantage. Scoring opened with Henry Hughes (Magdalen) at outside centre finishing up a good run of offloads through a disorganised defense, Taylor converting. Shortly thereafter Janney went over again through an increasingly haggard back line, Taylor continuing to keep the points topped up. Fresher Chris Williams (University) scored again for OURFC, followed by Taylor’s first failure to convert of the evening. As the binned men returned, the Servicemen rallied, with hooker St Philpott going over for a driven try at close range which remained unconverted. Both sides took this time to make some reshuffles, with OURFC bringing on hooker Alex Koo (St John’s), flanker Anthony Kalindjian (St Peter’s), flanker Harry Beale (Magdalen), winger Sam Dumigan (Pembroke) and flanker Jack Calvert (St Edmund Hall). With play drawing to a close, Dumigan, who made all told an excellent debut, threw a looping pass to Pietie Olivier (Keble) to finish in the corner. However, it would be the visiting side who would have the last laugh, with winger Toby Mann rounding off a solid run of phases with a try out wide.  
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Perfect pre-season for unbeaten Blues

Oxford’s Blues footballers fired a warning shot to their rivals by winning a pre-season tournament at Bristol University.

Two 1-0 wins against Bristol 2nds and Bath Spa 1sts and a 1-1 draw against Bristol 1sts gave the Blues the perfect preparation for their first game of the BUCS season, a tricky test away to Birmingham University on October 16.

A host of new recruits, including Mike Essman and Michael Feeney from across the Atlantic, hope to bring a second successive promotion for the Blues’ after reaching the Midlands 1A Division last season.

The new signings looked to have mastered the passing football which has characterised the Blues over the last few years in the tournament’s first clash against Bristol 1sts.

Jack Fletcher’s side dominated possession and broke the deadlock when Ezra Rubenstein slipped the ball through to Matt Smith, who executed a deft lob into the top right-hand corner. A moment of brilliance robbed Oxford of victory, however, when the hosts curled a free-kick past goalkeeper Ben Szreter with only five minutes remaining.

Rubenstein was the match-winner in the second contest as Oxford edged a dogged contest against Bristol’s 2nd team.

With both teams tiring in the sweltering heat the nippy winger was the difference, waltzing past two defenders and rolling the pall calmly inside the far post.

The visitors returned rejuvenated for their final match against Bath Spa 1sts but for all their toiling they could not find a breakthrough in the first half. Three times the Blues had the goalkeeper beaten, three times they saw the ball cannon back off the woodwork. Ben May saw a fourth attempt against the crossbar from a corner midway through the second half only for Adam Heardman to tuck in the rebound and seize the trophy.

A triumphant Oxford will complete their pre-season with fixtures against the Amateur Football Association, the Old Carthusians and Hartpury Academy.

Elsewhere, the Centaurs introduced a new coaching team during their pre-season who are looking to improve upon the work of last season’s captain Tom Phelan.

The team suffered two narrow heartbreaks last season, missing out on the league title on goal difference and losing Varsity by a single goal.

Newly-appointed captain will be hoping to guide the Centaurs to that elusive league and cup double. They travelled to London for their final pre-season friendly where they defeated Imperial College 1sts 2-0.

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Catz Run Out of Lives in Hockey Cuppers

A superb solo goal from John Craven in the last play of the game saw Keble win mixed hockey cuppers at Iffley Road on Saturday.  Cheered on a by a small but vocal crowd, the underdogs pulled off a dramatic upset to beat favourites St Catherine’s College by 3 goals to 2.

 

In a tense opening period littered with mistakes by both sides, it was Catz who started brighter, repeatedly threatening the Keble D and only being kept out by some frantic and scrambled defending. Yet it was Keble who finally broke the deadlock after 28 minutes: when a free hit on the edge of the D was deflected fortuitously into the path of Max Freeman-Mills, the crowd favourite made no mistake, rifling the ball past the Catz keeper with devastating accuracy. A determined Keble side then worked hard to consolidate their lead, however a yellow card to center back Stuart Murphy saw Catz begin to gain momentum. Some excellence on the line defending from Danny Johnson momentarily kept the favourites at bay, before Becky Wyatt took advantage of some sloppy defensive play at a short corner to drive the ball between the legs of keeper Andy Pursley, leaving the game all square at half time.

Both sides emerged from the break clearly determined to seize the initiative, and a yellow card for Catz after some persistent stick tackling made Keble seem the more likely scorer. The Saints defended rigorously however, until their resistance was finally broken in the 59th minute with John Craven deftly flicking the ball into the net after an incisive pass from playmaker Felix Hamer.

An unfortunate injury to a St Catz player caused a lengthy stop in play, but the favourites came out fighting, forcing two smart saves from Pursley in a spell of persistent pressure. Keble’s lack of discipline in the D saw yet another short corner for Catz, and this time Hugh Brannan made no mistake, placing the ball skillfully past the Keble keeper to level the score again and set up a tense finale. As both sides pushed hard for an elusive winning goal, the game became increasingly open, with possession changing hands on an almost pass-by-pass basis. Yet just as the match seemed destined for penalty flicks, Craven bagged his second, forcing his way inside the D and sweeping home a superb finish with quite literally the last touch of the game.Asked what had made the difference in such a close match,  Keble captain Sam Hornby was quick to emphasise that the victory was the result of “a fantastic team effort”, adding: “we’ve had a few tough defeats over the season, but this makes up for all of them – it’s the best possible finish”.

VIDEO/Robert Wheeldon

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OUWRFC sevens team make strong impression at BUCS

8After Varsity glory last term against Cambridge, last week the women’s Blues rugby sevens team pitted themselves against universities from around the country in the shorter version of the game. It was an early start for OUWRFC but that didn’t dampen spirits as they headed to Hinckley RFC in confident mood for the BUCS sevens championship.

They were drawn in a pool with Coventry, Glamorgan and Loughborough. With kit as bright as the weather OUWRFC certainly lived up to the mantra of look good, play good, opening with victory 25-0 over Coventry. Glamorgan posed a tougher challenge, but OUWRFC bravely fought back from three tries to one down to triumph 17-15. Their final pool match to Loughborough was always going to be an uphill battle; with captain Tatiana Cutts overheard describing it as ‘lambs to the slaughter’. OUWRFC nevertheless played with their heads held high and developed throughout the game, simply surpassed by a superior opposition.

This meant OUWRFC finished second in their pool and faced a semi-final against Birmingham. On this occasion they came out all guns firing, putting down two early tries in quick succession, setting the tone for the rest of the match. The physicality OUWRFC displayed in this game was notably upped and the final score lay at 27-10. The plate final against Exeter on the main pitch promised an exciting denouement to the day. Sadly, OUWRFC were not able to raise their game sufficiently against the National 15s Cup champions and lost 32-0.

The day finished with 9 exhausted, slightly sunburnt, but very happy and proud players. The days top try-scorers were Charlie Brown, Tess Braunerova and Liz Dubois, whilst Ann Tivey was named player of the tournament. Special mention should go to Hannah Winfield who played almost every minute despite battling a chest infection. However, all players rose valiantly to the occasion and were justifiably delighted with this excellent result: finishing 6th out of 16 teams overall.

OUWRFC captain elect Tatiana Cutts was delighted with the team’s achievements: ‘“Aside from a couple of bloody noses, sore heads and impressive t-shirt burns, it was quite the series of achievements: we beat two teams (Glamorgan and Birmingham) to whom we had lost during the 15s season, came 6th out of 16 on our BUCS 7s debut, and I didn’t crash the minibus. A special shout out to Ann, who scored at least 500 tries, to our coach Sean Morris (particularly for his patience and ability to reset dislocated fingers) and to the team: I have never run out with a team that played with more heart than those 8 girls. They were phenomenal.”

 

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In form Blues have Cambridge firmly in sights

cricketparksHaving secured a dominant Varsity Twenty20 win in 2012 under the leadership of Warwickshire 2nd XI member Ben Williams, in 2013 the Men’s Blues are seeking to go two better by overturning Cambridge’s hold on the Varsity 50-over and 4-day fixtures. Led by the vastly experienced Samridh Agarwal, the squad has received an influx of talented freshers, and early season form suggests that this squad could revive OUCC’s dominance of the early 2000s.

The Blues currently sit top of BUCS South having claimed dominant victories over Southampton, Brunel and Aberystwyth to complement a more tensely fought win over Bath. The side has been ably led by Pembroke ‘keeper Sam Westaway, entering his 3rd season with the squad as deputy to Agarwal, who has been delighted with the early season success. He commented, “The great strength of the 2013 squad is undoubtedly in its depth. We’ve had performances from stalwarts such as Sam Agarwal and the returning Dan Pascoe but it has been the form and contribution of younger squad members that has really excited me. Take for example New College’s Sam Cato, who against Aberystwyth was a revelation with both bat and ball”.

Agarwal’s blazing hundred against Brunel sees him top the run scoring chart, where he sits alongside former Tab Gus Kennedy whose aggregate was boosted by back to back half-centuries against Southampton and Aberystwyth. The strange anomaly that is Oxbridge Cricket also provides the Blues with a series of fixtures against the countries strongest club teams, school boy teams and composite XI’s. Teddington Cricket Club, renowned as one of London’s strongest clubs and satisfied by a 140 run thumping of Cambridge’s Blues the day before, visited The Parks in early May.

The Blues rattled through the Teddington top order, reducing them to 104-6 before they scampered to 191 in their 50 overs. In reply, Ben Jeffery launched a solid reply before Worcester’s Tom Chadwick saw the team home to a dominant victory with 38*. The fixture against the nomadic ‘Arabs’ saw former England ODI spinner Alex Loudon blaze a hundred before 1998 Blues Captain Mark Wagh compiled a masterful 180. 370 was plenty enough for the visitors, but not before they were met by force of fresher Matt Winter. The LMH batsmen dispatched the Arab attack to all parts of the Parks, and indeed Oxfordshire, before being cruelly run-out in sight of a deserved century.

However, perhaps the most dominant victory of the season to date was reserved for the Blues’ annual trip to Arundel Castle. Set in the idyllic West Sussex estate, the ground is overlooked by the 11th century stately home of the Duke of Norfolk, and the opposition comes in the form of an XI, bearing the Duke’s name, and containing some of the Sussex leagues best club cricketers and visiting professionals. The Blues fielded first on a bitter spring day, with Keble’s Don Gordon opening up with an accurate and incisive first spell. The spoils were however shared; with Agarwal and Cato also each claiming vital wickets as the Blues took a dominant position. A series of calamitous run outs saw the Duke’s XI declaring at 9-down to set a possibly tricky target of 191 in 45 overs. As it turned out the target was a touch too small, as Ben Jeffery bludgeoned a magnificent unbeaten hundred and Kennedy 78* to see the team home with all 10 wickets still in tact. The 50-over Varsity Match is at Lords Cricket Ground on Saturday of 8th Week. Tickets can be bought on the door. The Twenty20 is at Fenner’s Cricket Ground in Cambridge on Thursday of 9th and the 4-Day Varsity Match begins on July 2nd at Fenner’s Cricket Ground and can be followed on Cricinfo.

PHOTO / Lawrence OP

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