University of Manchester women storm to Varsity victory
University of Manchester women’s first team eased past Varsity opponents Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), fulfilling the advertised expectations of being ‘proud, prepared’ and needing ‘no excuse’ for their performance.
Early nerves could have been expected for potentially the biggest match for both sides this season, but this was not the case for the UoM women. They pinned Man Met to their try line for long periods of the first half, Hale crossing the line after just three minutes for her first try of the afternoon.
UoM continued to exert pressure, with a further three tries in the first half-hour from Lockyer, Watson and Hale who picked up her second – an impressive display of dribbling from the halfway line. Watson succeeded with two conversions and this early start looked to put the game out of reach.
Although MMU had chances, they would always struggle to make up the 29-0 half-time deficit. They did have extended spells of pressure in the UoM third, and strong performances from Grey and Bridgeman kept their rivals on their toes. However, the strength of the UoM pack was a constant throughout the game, making turnovers in vital areas in the pitch, particularly within their own 22 when slightly under pressure.
Despite the second half being a far more even affair, it was still the University of Manchester who struck first as Shutter exposed the gaps in Man Met’s defence following a well-worked turn over. UoM’s final try of the night was set up by a strong scrum and the pace of Lockyer, who Man Met struggled to deal with all afternoon. Lockyer eventually passed to Hale who powered over the line for her hat-trick.
Manchester Met did score a consolation try towards the end of the match, after a quick tap penalty allowed Bridgeman to slip through the UoM defence. The result never looked in doubt, with UoM in total control for the 39-7 victory.
University of Manchester captain Katy Mulqueen said: “It was a hard game with it being the first of the season for us, I was really impressed with our performance – even though we had girls playing who’d been away for a year.”
The team will be hoping that this result will not be a flash in the pan, but will act as a catalyst for a quick return to the top division. Mulqueen said “I’m feeling confident about the season. If we keep playing like that then we will win games and hopefully get back into the Premiership.”