OXFORD Brookes University’s men’s eight completed an historic double by beating Cambridge University in the final pre-Boat Race fixture, writes John Wiggins.

Last weekend it was the Dark Blues who were second best to the vastly-successful and experienced Brookes crew.

With one crew change but a much altered seating order, Brookes dealt with Cambridge much as they did Oxford, but it proved a more fiercely-contested encounter, which also included some close-quarter blade clashing.

While Cambridge retain their pre-race favourite status, Oxford have made considerable progress and will prove a real challenge on Saturday, March 24.

Over the weekend they had far less trouble overcoming the University of London in a couple of matched racing pieces pleasing head coach, Sean Bowden who said, “the crew rowed with good discipline and consistency in tricky conditions.”

The Cambridge women were not racing last weekend and direct comparisons against common opposition have not been possible.

But Oxford gained much-needed race experience against Molesey.

Head coach Andy Nelder has worked hard with his small squad to bring together a crew ranging from those who only started rowing at Oxford through to overseas college rowers and the one returning Blue, Alice Roberts.

“What they have in common is a desire to take on the challenge,” he said.

With the confidence from the previous week in a tight contest against Oxford Brookes, they took control early on and made best use of the twists and turns of the Tideway and finished several boat lengths ahead.

Sadly, all other events involving local clubs were cancelled last weekend due to the weather, but it is hoped that the men’s and women’s heads of the river will go ahead in London this weekend.