Allen's late try secures Oxford's triumph

Oxford University 25 Cambridge University 13

Dave Hadfield
Thursday 06 March 2003 01:00

Two tries in the last five minutes decided the 23rd Varsity match in Oxford's favour here at a saturated Athletic Ground last night after Cambridge had fought back to tie the scores in a match which lived up to the exciting traditions of this fixture.

In the atrocious weather which has also become traditional, Oxford's bigger pack had the better of the early exchanges. The closest they came to a score was when their hooker, Roddie Walker, was penalised for a double movement and when their full-back, David Marsh, missed a penalty.

When they took the lead it was in spectacular style, their second row John Allen kicking ahead from a loose ball and going half the length of the field. This time Marsh was on target with a difficult conversion and with a penalty to stretch the lead.

A Marsh drop-goal edged Oxford further ahead – a fair reward for their better organisation. Cambridge badly needed a lift and they got it when their Northern Irish loose-forward, Richard Girvan, sold a dummy and went over before half-time. Their captain, Paul Marchand, added the conversion.

Cambridge carried that momentum into the second half with Aki Abiola scoring in the corner, although Oxford replied immediately with a similarly expansive move that ended with a try from John Corcoran.

Marchand's penalty cut the margin to a single point and Oxford had plenty of defending to do in a fiercely contested last half hour. Seven minutes from time Marchand put over a drop-goal to tie the scores and the game was heading for the second draw in its history until the Oxford scrum-half, David Jenkins, found a gap. In the last minute, Allen went through a weary defence for his second try and the new K J Lee Trophy was on its way to Oxford.

Oxford University: Marsh; Gotora, G William, Watkins, Corcoran; Kent, Jenkins; Woolrich, Walker, Clarke, Clark, Allen, Reeds. Substitutes used: Tinto, Tervakoski, Lee, Cooper.

Cambridge University: Farmer; Abiola, Smith, Hayles, Pearson; Mantle, Marchant; Hensman, Sinnet, Robinson, Pask, Gluck, Girvan. Substitutes used: Wordsworth, Forrest, Sawyer, Hughes.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).

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