Oxford Uni 6 Cambridge Uni 15: Roff's World Cup experience fails to check charge of Light Blues brigade

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Cambridge University won the inaugural Lehman Brothers trophy in a dour and untidy Varsity Match at Twickenham yesterday.

It took a last-minute try by their captain, John Blaikie, a lock from New Zealand, but only after referee David Rose had turned to the television match official for confirmation after the Cambridge forwards had driven hard yet again for the Oxford line. It was the only score of the second half, but the Light Blues were already in front, having secured control, thanks to their powerful pack.

This annual battle of the Blues is beginning to change colour. For the second year running a yellow card was shown. For the first 123 years of the Varsity Match the students had kept a clean disciplinary sheet, but that ended last year when Cambridge's two-try hero Rudi Bosch became the first player in the history of this fixture to be sent to the sin bin. Yesterday's game, the 125th, went one better. After Oxford's Dylan Alexander elbowed an opponent in the 10th minute a modest brawl broke out. The South African Alexander became the first Oxford man to be shown a yellow card and was joined by the Light Blues No 8, Ed Andrews.

Even by then the Cambridge eight, with the former Saracens', Harlequins' and Wasps' tight-head prop Jon Dawson to the fore, had begun to exert pressure on the Dark Blues scrum, which resulted in an early penalty try when the Dark Blues were punished for collapsing a scrum on their line, Jon Ufton, the former Wasps player winning his fourth Blue, converted.

For all their domination up front however there was a tendency for Cambridge to kick away too much of their possession. And that suited Oxford. The key lay at outside centre, where Joe Roff, the former Australian and ACT Brumbies winger brought his vast international experience - including winning the World Cup - to bear and gave his fellow threequarters some serious momentum.Roff could content himself with winning vital ball and sending those around him into the gaps he created with his vision and his passes. Sadly, it was not enough. "That was one of the most disappointing losses I've been involved in," the 86-cap former Wallaby said.

The Cambridge defence held firm throughout and all Oxford had to show for their efforts were two penalties by their Australian fly-half, Craig McMahon.

Oxford: Penalties McMahon 2.

Cambridge: Tries Penalty, Blaikie; Conversion Ufton; Penalty Tibbott.

Oxford University: C Mahony (Wolfson); J Boto (University), J Roff (Harris Manchester), J O'Connor (Kellogg), T Tombleson (Wolfson); C McMahon, K Brennan (capt, both Linacre); O Tomaszczyk (Brasenose), W Cowie (Keble), R Matthews (Wadham), J Chance (Kellogg), D Alexander (Templeton), D Abbott (Linacre), D Palm (St Cross), J Jones (St Anne's). Replacements: R Graham (New) for Chance, 63; M Du Toit (Pembroke) for Jones, 63; J Bucknall (Kellogg) for Palm, 46.

Cambridge University: H Murray (St Edmund's); D Tibbott (Sidney Sussex), J Ansbro (Robinson), S Thomas (Trinity), D Stewart (Hughes Hall); J Ufton (St Edmund's), R Blake; R Schwikkard (both Hughes Hall), J Clark, J Dawson (both St Edmund's), J Blaikie (Hughes Hall, capt), M Harfoot (St Catharine's), N Johnson (Pembroke), D O'Brien (Hughes Hall), E Andrew (St John's). Replacements: T Woolsey (Queens') for Clark, 20-24; T Boynton (Hughes Hall) for Andrews, 63; R Bartholomew (Jesus) for Johnson, 80+3; T Malaney (St Edmund's) for O'Brien, 63; R Evans (Hughes Hall) for Ufton, 66.

Referee: D Rose (Warwickshire).