Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Oxford celebrate Varsity victory

John Carter

Oxford won the Nomura Varsity Match for a second successive season at Twickenham after comfortably overcoming Cambridge 28-10.

The Light Blues were fortunate to finish the game with all 15 players after their number eight Dave Allen punched Oxford skipper John Carter. Allen's off-the-ball indiscipline was captured by television cameras, but referee Dave Pearson missed the first-half incident and it went unpunished.

Cambridge prospered by collecting a penalty try while former Sale back-row forward Carter was off the pitch receiving treatment, but Oxford's win was never in doubt once he returned. Prop Will Kane, lock Karl Outen and fly-half Tom Mitchell scored tries for the Dark Blues, with wing Cassian Bramham-Law's points haul including three penalties.

Cambridge fly-half Steve Townend, meanwhile, kicked a penalty and conversion, but his team conceded 15 unanswered second-half points.

Oxford's pack featured seven of the forwards on duty in last season's encounter, while Cambridge - whose coaching team included Wales defence specialist Shaun Edwards - were captained by former Canadian international centre Matt Guinness-King.

Townend booted Cambridge into a third-minute lead, but Oxford soon stirred and they scored from their first attack when Kane powered over from close range for a try that Bramham-Law converted. Bramham-Law's opening penalty meant Oxford ended the first quarter in charge, yet Cambridge responded during a three-minute display of dominance.

Frantic Dark Blues defensive work denied their opponents a breakaway try, but with Carter off for treatment after taking Allen's blow beneath his left eye, Cambridge pounced. Pearson soon lost patience with the Oxford pack for pulling down a scrum near their posts, awarding Cambridge a penalty try that Townend converted.

Tempers continued to simmer as a feisty half drew to its close, but there was still time for another successful Bramham-Law penalty, which gave Oxford a 13-10 interval advantage.

And Oxford took charge during the third quarter as a driving lineout provided the platform for Outen's touchdown, before Bramham-Law completed his penalty hat-trick and there was no way back for the Light Blues.

England Sevens international Mitchell then ghosted over 10 minutes from time to complete Cambridge's misery on a day when the Light Blues forwards were outgunned in most key areas.