It is 1-1 going into the Varsity Matches at the Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium on Sunday after the Cambridge LX Club staged a magnificent second half comeback to beat the Oxford Greyhounds 20-15.
The game between the second XV’s from the two universities followed on from a win for the Oxford Women’s Panthers team over the Cambridge Tigers last weekend to leave this year’s series of Varsity clashes on a knife-edge ahead of the main events in Leicester.
Neither squad had much time to prepare for the game at Grange Road on Wednesday afternoon and it looked as though the Greyhounds were going to make it six wins in a row when they went into a 12-0 interval lead in a game played under the RFU adapted laws.
That meant there were no scrums and no mauls and the game was full of action and attacking intent. The visitors suffered from the withdrawal of several players forced into isolation, yet Mark Sutherland’s side still hit the front.
Centre Luca Tonelli scored the first try for the ‘Hounds and his midfield partner Nick Etherington added a second with a log-range interception before the break. Scrum half Dylan McGagh added a conversion to give the Oxford side a 12-0 lead.
McGagh kicked a penalty after the break, but that was all the ‘Hounds could muster. The LX Club sniffed an opportunity and came on strong to eventually get their noses in front in the final quarter.
Even then the game wasn’t over, with the ‘Hounds launching one final attack to try to maintain their winning ways. Etherington made another dash for the line in the dying moments, but was hauled down inches short and the home side registered their first win in the fixture since 2014.
It took the home side 63 minutes before they got onto the score broad thanks to a long-range penalty from centre Ollie Little, who turned into the matchwinner with 10 vital points. That was the first of four big kicks from the Fitzwilliam man and was instrumental in launching the late push for victory.
As the LX Club moved through the gears they picked up a corner try from replacement Chimdi which Little converted magnificently off the touchline. Then wing Tim Andrew sped over in the right corner to give Little an even more difficult shot at goal to edge his side in front.
He kept his cool, struck the ball superbly and set up a helter-skelter final five minutes. The ‘Hounds came on strong, especially when Cambridge lost No 8 Alex Froud to a yellow card, and pushed for a winning score.
It took some heroic defence from the LX Club, who had lost four players in the final 48 hours leading into the game due to COOVID compliance, with LX skipper Jonny Andrews leading by example as he steered the home side to a notable triumph.
Scorers: LX Club: Tries: Chimdi Ogbuneke, Tim Andrew; Cons: Ollie Little 2; Pens: Ollie Little 2
Greyhounds: Tries: Luca Tonelli, Nick Etherington; Con: Dylan McGagh; Pen: Dylan McGagh
LX Club: Will Saunter (St John’s); Tim Andrew (Jesus), Oliver Little (Fitzwilliam), Jonny Andrews (Homerton, captain), Angus McIntosh (Jesus); Alex King (St Catharine’s), Sam Odu (Caius); Cosmo Summerfield (St John’s), Will Hunt (Darwin), Roland McFall (Sidney Sussex), Hasan Cuthbert (Caius), Connor Fairman (Homerton), Harry Shaw (Downing), Jonny Gathercole (Caius), Alex Froud (Magdalene)
Reps: James Wright (Jesus), Tom Ryan (Fitzwilliam), James Pratt (Sidney Sussex), Angus Peters (Wolfson), Elliott Baines * (Peterhouse), David Holdroyd (Jesus), Ramsey Hodgson (St John’s), Chimdi Ogbuneke (Homerton)
Oxford Greyhounds: Felix Foot (Hertford); Hector Skipworth (St Edmund Hall), Nick Etherington (Green Templeton), Luca Tonelli (Somerville), Ioan Baxter (Worcester); Angus Lochrane (Keble), Dylan McGagh * (Magdalen); Mike Gorry (Jesus), Josh Navarajasegaran (Merton), Felix Stocker (St John’s), Sam Green (Brasenose), Ben Eastwood (St Anne’s), Rhidian Lerwell (Corpus Christi), Lewis Ebert (St Hilda’s), Mark Sutherland (St Antony’s, captain)
Reps: Noah Zenios (Magdalen), Guy Greenbaum (Keble), Ryan Walshaw (Jesus), Freddie Wright-Morris (St Edmund Hall), Angus White (Oriel), Tom Barnes (St Hilda’s), Ashley Turner (Keble), Alex Greenhalgh (Lincoln)
* Denotes Blue
LX CLUB V GREYHOUNDS – THE LAST SEVEN MEETINGS
3 Dec, 2014: LX Club 27–20 Greyhounds
2 Dec, 2015: Greyhounds 50–5 LX Club
30 Nov, 2016: LX Club 8–49 Greyhounds
29 Nov, 2017: Greyhounds 24–7 LX Club
28 Nov, 2018: LX Club 6–9 Greyhounds
4 Dec, 2019: Greyhounds 17–14 LX Club
30 Jun, 2021: LX Club 20 – 15 Greyhounds