Varsity Slips Through The Net

Blues Netballers narrowly lose out to Oxford in thrilling Varsity Match encounter. Read more here.

blues netball cambridge netball geoff hoon jess mcgeorge nathalie hoon Netball

The Blues suffered only their second defeat of the season, going down 44-35 to a well-drilled Oxford outfit.

Despite having some gorgeous girls on show, this wasn’t the prettiest of matches to watch from a netballing point of view as Oxford ground out the win in a rather scrappy affair.

Having demolished the University of East Anglia 61-19 on Wednesday, Cambridge went into today’s clash with the Old Enemy full of confidence and they got off to a perfect start with three quick goals from Jess McGeorge.

However Oxford rallied with five of their own to take the lead. This seemed to rattle the Cambridge girls, who were more used to watching their opponents capitulate rather than launch a spirited fight back.

For perhaps the first time this season Cambridge were in a real contest, facing opponents who could match them for pace, skill and agility.

Oxford certainly seemed to have the upper hand, with former England U19 player Emma Lonsdale causing the Cambridge defence all sorts of trouble, but the sharp shooting of goal machine McGeorge meant that after a fiery first quarter the score stood at 11-10 to Oxford.

Cambridge came out all guns blazing after the break and stormed into the lead thanks to yet more McGeorge goals.

Cheered on by the home crowd, the Oxford girls began to find a rhythm. They moved the ball around the court at lightning speed, feeding their Goal Shooter, Nathalie Hoon, daughter of Cambridge alumnus and former Defence Secretary Geoff, who’s clinical finishing gave the Dark Blues a 23-18 half-time lead.

In spite of Cambridge’s best efforts they just couldn’t stop Hoon scoring. Once the ball was in her hands she was never going to miss.

If it hadn’t been for Cambridge player of the match Antonia Akoto’s inspired defensive display, the game could have been dead and buried well before the final whistle. She was a constant thorn in Oxford’s side, making crucial interceptions and pouncing on rebounds like a cat in pursuit of a small rodent.

As it was Cambridge were still very much in contention, trailing by just 5 goals, as the game entered the final quarter.

McGeorge and her new strike partner Katie Marshall clawed Cambridge back to a two point deficit. But any chance of a late Light Blue comeback were dashed by a flurry of goals from Hoon, who netted nine more baskets to see her side home to a 44-35 win.

The score-line certainly flattered Oxford but it is fair to say that they were the better side on the day. Although the Dark Blues had lost almost every match leading up to Varsity, they ply their trade in the division above Cambridge and the experience they have gained from playing against more competitive opposition week in week out was certainly evident.

However with Cambridge on course for promotion in the league and Oxford set to be relegated, revenge in 2011 is definitely on the cards.

Earlier in the day the Jays gave the travelling supporters plenty to cheer about as they avenged last year’s loss with a 36-34 win over the Roos, Oxford’s second team.

In a thrilling encounter the Jay’s deadly strike duo of Sarah Gill and Anna Fries stole the show, which was quite an achievement given the length of Charlie Penney’s dress.

Affectionately known as “Fish and Chips” to their team-mates, the pair put Oxford to the sword in the third quarter, scoring 14 goals of the highest quality to give the Jays a 6 goal cushion going into the last 15 minutes.

In a frenetic finish the crowd were on their feet sensing an Oxford comeback, but amidst the cacophony Cambridge kept their composure to close out the game and come away victors, 36-34.

After the game a sweaty Charlie Penney told The Tab: “I’m glad we won but to be honest I’m more excited that our drinking ban is over. Party time.”

   The Jays celebrate victory

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The Blues are next in action on Wednesday in the semi-finals of the Midlands Cup.