Oxford University gave their arch-rivals something to think about ahead of the 131st Varsity Match as they notched their first win of the season in beating Major Stanley’s XV 31-22. After seven straight defeats, including a 29-15 reverse against Russia, John Carter’s side turned on the style to send the Light Blues home to Cambridge wondering how to avoid a third successive defeat at Twickenham. Cambridge skipper Rob Malaney brought his squad to Iffley Road for the annual ‘Varsity Match Challenge’ and they had to sit through a five try Dark Blue onslaught that left a Stanley’s side containing four Samoan internationals clutching at straws. The invitational side managed to open the scoring midway through the first half with a try from Old Alleyanians wing Paul O’Connor, but they found the rest of their attacks breaking down against a rock solid defensive line. Last year’s Varsity Match scrum-half Sam Egerton, playing at full-back, rounded off a good break by centre Cassian Bramham-Law to level the scores before tight head prop Bob Baker crashed over in the left corner for a try which outside half Charlie Marr converted. On the stroke of half-time Samoan centre Rupena Lavasa charged over, but his touring team mate Ki Anufe failed with the conversion and Oxford led 12-10 at the beak.
A minute into the second half the outstanding Egerton raced clear for his second try and then two more tries for the students, while Stanley’s skipper and ex-Dark Blue Richie Woods was in the sin-bin, sealed the win. Centre Gavin Turner crossed for the first and then scrum-half Stuart Commins combined with replacement No 8 Mike Rickner to work a brilliant blindside score from 30 metres out. Bramham-Law converted Egerton and Turner’s tries and the gap grew to 21 points with 20 minutes to go. Two tries in the final quarter from Stanley’s closed the gap, as Samoan scrum-half Auvasa Dalealili and Oxford Harlequins wing Harry Whittington crossed, and an Anufe conversion reduced the deficit to nine points in the end.
The Blues next fixture is a return match with Northampton Saints at Iffley Road on Monday 19th November, kick-off 7.15pm,
Team Hamish Macdonald, Nick Gardner, Bob Baker, Jason Law, Will Rowlands, Alex Waddingham, James Harris, John Carter, Stuart Commins, Charlie Marr, Henry Lamont, Gav Turner, Cassian Bramham Law, Heewon Cho, Samson Egerton
Subs Daniel Barnes (on for Nick Gardner), Jon Direen (on for Bob Baker), Michael Rickner (on for John Carter), Gus Jones (on for James Harris), Andrew Mcculla (on for Stuart Commins), Henry Hughes (on for Gav Turner), Jonathan Hudson (on for Charlie Marr), Lewis Anderson (on for Hamish Macdonald), Dugald Macdonald (on for Will Rowlands), William Fell (on for Dugald Macdonald)
Scores T: Samson Egerton (2), Gav Turner (1), Bob Baker (1), Stuart Commins (1) C: Charlie Marr (1), Cassian Bramham Law (1)