Oxford Cavaliers 16 – Bristol Golden Ferns 18

Conditions: sunny and dry.
Venue: Brackley RFC.
This excellent Betfred Super League South clash unfolded beneath a Mediterranean sun and on a concrete hard playing surface.Nonetheless both sides set about each other in splendid fashion and contrived an encounter rich in entertainment.
The visitors opened the scoring after 5 minutes. Fine approach play by Sarah Humphries and Trish Brown was ‘iced’ in customary fashion from dummy half by Bobbie Jackson. Vicky Mansell added the extras.Barely 5 more minutes had elapsed before concerted Cavaliers’ pressure produced the equalising score. A good run by Emily Partridge set up the position close to the Bristol line and Ellen Thornton jumped from the ensuing play the ball.Partridge converted.The entertaining flavour of the match continued with stern defence and skilful handling by both sides.Indeed the home side took the lead at the quarter time point with number 14 touching down. The goal was missed from wide out but the Cavaliers led 10 – 6.
The home supporters’ joy was short-lived though as the Golden Ferns responded in impressive manner. Half back Sarah Humphries was leading the Ferns around the field well and it was her inside ball that sent Jackson over for her brace. Mansell goaled. As the end of the opening stanza loomed a delightful interchange of passes between Sarah Burgess and Lucy Juffkin over 20 metres culminated in strong running Burgess cruising in by the side of the sticks. Mansell made no mistake with the kick. At 10 – 18 the visitors appeared to be gaining the ascendancy.However proceedings took an unfortunate turn when tough Bristol tacking stopped Emma O’Hara after a surging run.As a result O’Hara suffered a severe leg injury. The medical attention provided by staff was instant and professional. However the game was suspended for about 45 minutes for treatment and transfer to hospital.
The resumption of proceedings and the decision of the referee to curtail the game by 20 minutes meant that neither side was able to regain momentum. There was time though for a top class Oxford effort from Heather Britton duly added to by Partridge.
Simon Martin the full-time Head of Rugby Development at the Bristol club was pleased with his charges:
“The attitude of the team today was fantastic.The conditions were tough with the heat and an extremely hard playing surface even so the ladies played with great skill in attack and were strong in defence.The work at training is paying off as we are now starting to complete sets and ask questions of the opposition defence.We now look forward to our last league game against the Army.”
•Oxford – not supplied.
•Bristol – Ellen Witt; Eli Mei,Ella Dawkins,Lucy Juffkins,Vicky Mansell; Ffion Griffiths,Sarah Humphries;Trish Brown,Bobbie Jackson, Gemma Gould,Laura Panting ,Sarah Burgess,Annie Allen.
Interchange – Nyima Touray,Emma Chaning-Pearce,Nicole Crowley,Ailsa Shaw,Suzie Beavin.
●Scoring sequence: 0 – 6,6 – 6,10 – 6,10 – 12,10 – 18 (HT) 16 – 18.
● Scorers:
Oxford –
Tries – Thornton, Britton, number 14
(Details/name not available).
Goals – Partridge 2 from 3.
Bristol –
Tries – Jackson 2, Burgess.
Goals –  Mansell 3 from 3.
● Players of the match:
•Oxford – Ellen Thornton.
•Bristol  – Trish Brown.
●Penalties: Oxford – 3; Bristol – 1.
●Match official: Andrew Quirke ( RFL).
Photo credit: Lewis Mitchell