CAMBRIDGE MAINTAINED what has proved an almost unbreakable grip on the Varsity match, beating Oxford for the seventh time in eight years, but a stirring second half made last night's match at Richmond anything but predictable.
Three tries in 10 minutes before the break saw Cambridge threaten to run away with it, but Oxford showed great spirit to all but drag the game back.
Oxford took the lead against the run of play in the 10th minute, their hooker, Stuart Farmer, putting up a high kick that was claimed cleanly by Ian Melling for the first try.
Oxford defended staunchly until constant Cambridge pressure finally broke them down, with their substitute, Tom Blathwayt, going over from close range. Within three minutes, they had scored another as Mark Count forced his way in from dummy-half.
Jon Hughes then went over wide on the right after a run by Paul Fulton had pulled Oxford out of shape.
Oxford badly needed a try early in the second half to bring them back into it and they got it through Parker after their best handling of the match.
With Farmer's kick putting them only four points behind, Oxford were suddenly in with a chance, but hard though they battered at the Light Blue line, they could find no way through.
OXFORD UNIVERSITY: Melling (Hertsford); Ramsbottom (St Catherine's), K Moore (St Catherine's), Yarrow (St Cross), Parker (St Hugh's); Molyneux (St Catherine's), Jones (Balliol); Hobart (Keble), Farmer (Pembroke), Kocen (Brasenose), Wright (Grays Briars), Grahame (Lady Margaret Hall). Shires (St Anne's). Substitutes used: Guthrie (Pembroke), Trotter (Balliol), Franklyn (St Anne's), Newall (St Hugh's).
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY: Peacocke (Hughes Hall); F Moore (Gonville & Caius), Jarvis (Christ's), Hilton (Gonville & Caius), Fulton (St Catherine's); Hughes (Peter House), Thwaites (Jesus); Foote (Christ's), Jones (Magdalene), Rodgers (Hughes Hall), Brown (Downing), Harris (Christ's), Count (Jesus). Substitutes used: Goodier (Sydney), Dixon (Gonville & Caius), George (St Edmund's), Blathwayt (St John's).
Referee: R Connolly (Wigan).
Play-offs will decide the 16th and final place in the 2000 World Cup to be held in Britain and France. Italy, Lebanon and Morocco play in a Mediterranean Cup and the winner will meet the side that comes out on top of a tournament involving the United States, Canada and Japan, the winner gaining the last place in the competition proper.Reuse content