By Robert Gourley
After a largely disappointing year in BUCS for the men’s water polo first team, the men undertook a training regime that would make Phelps shake in his boots. Co-captains Rob Gourley and Joseph Wu were determined to turn around personal scores from the Varsity match in 2016. A long day in Parkside Pool saw the team witness wins for both the men’s second team and the women’s team. The pressure was on to complete a trio of wins for the light blue.
Pre-match rituals were in full force as Isaac Hinchcliffe saw off his third monster of the afternoon and Alex Norcliffe allowed the can of Strongbow to digest before the warm up. As a largely new team, the pressures of the deafening crowd in a first Varsity could have halted our prowess. However after some galvanising words from the co-captains, the game began under the floodlights in the light blue’s favour with an almost immediate impact with a goal from Rob Gourley after some excellent work from star fresher Ben Tinkler-Davies. A cagey first quarter went goal for goal ending 3-2 in favour of Cambridge.
The second quarter was a period of consolidation for the light blues with more goals from Ben TD and Rob Gourley, supported by our very own brick wall in net, Brian Trippe. Forcing ejections for the O*ford team was a key part of the game plan masterminded by veteran coach Andy Knight, who kept heads concentrated throughout the game. Patrick Charles and Adam Streeter bullied the O*ford defence into submission with brute strength and dashing looks. The second quarter ended 6-3 to Cambridge.
The light blues began to sense that this game was for the taking, like a predator devouring its prey the team began to turn the screw. 7-4, 8-4, 9-4, 10-4. Highlight coming with Ben TD scoring from his own half after a blunder from the O*ford keeper. The game was over then and there, thanks for coming O*xford, see you next year. Home support got a quick scare going through the fourth quarter when O*ford had a ‘comeback’, to 10-7 to the light blues, and hearts began to stutter. No bother, step up Adam Streeter with a crucial goal to make it 11-7 and fully close the game off. Final score: 11-8 to Cambridge, completing the full set of water polo Varsity victories.
Man of the match was amicably shared between co-captain Rob Gourley and Ben Tinkler-Davies who shared the first 10 goals between them with 5 each. Honourable mention goes to Brian Trippe who was unbelievable in net absolutely shutting down the shooting game of O*ford. Thanks to all those who came to support the team.