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Cambridge University Women came out on top in the first ever Varsity Match at StoneX Stadium, as they edged out Oxford to win 10-5 in a thrilling encounter.

A strong first half proved to be the difference as their resolute defence ensured they would not be stopped in their pursuit of Varsity glory in a match that went right down to the wire.

Oxford started strongly and a break from captain Sophie Shams almost saw her cut through the defence, but she was hauled down just inside the 22.

Cambridge then started to take control, and a penalty from Izzy Boothroyd with 16 minutes on the clock gave them a deserved 3-0 lead.

It got better for them 10 minutes later as the pressure continued, and this time it resulted in the first try of the afternoon. A big carry from Hetta Friend took them in to the 22, and then they went through the phases until Ella Heathfield could stretch over from close range. Boothroyd then added the extras to make it 10-0.

Oxford hit straight back though to bring themselves right back in to proceedings. A penalty was awarded, and some quick thinking from Alex Wilkinson caught the defence napping and allowed her to dive over from 10 metres out. The conversion went wide, but the deficit was now just five points.

Lilla Berry then almost got Oxford level as she broke down the right wing, but the Cambridge defence were alert and dragged her in to touch.

Cambridge then managed to see out the final stages of the first half, and headed down the tunnel with a 10-5 lead at the break.

Oxford started the second half well and a brilliant 50:22 from Stella Farmer gave them some much needed field position, but after gathering the lineout the ball went forward and Cambridge survived.

Lauren Webb was then sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle, but from a penalty Cambridge couldn’t extend their lead as Boothroyd’s penalty sailed just left of the posts.

Both sides then made a whole host of changes as they tried to inject some more energy in to the final 30 minutes, and Cambridge came close to making it count when Emily Bell looked to offload to Ellie O’Keefe, but the pass allowed the defence to get back and stop the attack.

It was all Cambridge as we headed towards the final 10 minutes, but the Oxford work at the breakdown was ensuring they wouldn’t fall more than a score behind as they searched for a moment of magic to level the score.

Alice Middleton and Emily Bell were then sin-binned, meaning Cambridge would have to do it the hard way if they were to close out the last stages.

That’s exactly what they did with some heroic defence to get their hands on the trophy and spark scenes of wild jubilation at StoneX.

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