It was the first ever women’s match played between Oxford and Birmingham with the Exhibition game being the curtain-raiser for the Varsity Match to follow. Ominous weather was looming prior to the game, but sunshine broke through to take the edge off the frosty wind blowing across the field.
The first quarter was dominated early by the Oxford girls. Helen Baxendale proved dominant in the middle of the ground, ensuring the ball was camped deep inside the Oxford forward 50. Finally, after 10 minutes of peppering the goals, the captain, Rachel Paterson, opened the scoring for the girls in blue. The rest of quarter evened out with some fierce contests and big hits, proving this match meant a lot to both sides. Two late goals to the ever prominent, Helen Baxendale and Emma Lawrence gave Oxford the upper hand going into the break.
The Birmingham girls came alive in the second quarter opening their account with a goal within a minute of the quarter. With the wind picking up the game turned into an arm wrestle with both teams giving away nothing. Oxford proved relentless with their pressure and burst through the Birmingham defence to pile on three goals in 5 minutes to close out the quarter. Rachel Paterson was wreaking havoc in the forward line for Oxford, finishing off the first half with three goals to her name.
The second half began with mother nature dominating preceding’s. Light hail had supporters take cover wherever it could be found. This didn’t deter the girls out on the field, however, Oxford adapted to the conditions the better of the two sides, and capitalised with a 3 goal to none quarter. Number 14, Lucy Jones, was gathering a heap of the footy for Birmingham, keeping them in the contest going into the final change.
The clearing weather inspired the Birmingham girls, kicking two goals early and mounting pressure on the Oxford team. A come-from-behind victory was on the horizon. Unfortunately, the lead proved too great and the Oxford girls held on for a historic victory on home soil. The final scorecard reading 9.8. 62 to 3.7. 25 in favour of the home team.
Notable performances from Birmingham’s, Chloe Hall, and Oxford’s Helen Baxendale and Emma Lawrence. Best on ground awards went to Lucy Jones from Birmingham and The Oxford Captain, Rachel Paterson, who ended the day with 6 goals to her name in what proved a match winning performance.
Massive congratulations to the umpires for officiating the game. Special mention needs to go to the girls who travelled up from the South East London Giants, who assisted as top up players on the day. It was a very competitive match and a great initiative from the two sides, proving the women’s game is really starting to take off abroad. Hopefully we’ll see another great match between these two sides again in the near future.
Written by Benjamin Durance for AFL Europe