On a chilly night at Aldershot on Wednesday, a young Blues side led by Sam Egerton (Keble), in the absence of John Carter (Kellogg), blew hot to defeat the Army for the first time since February 2008. With a number of senior players unavailable, this was a chance for Carter and his coaching team to cast their eye over some younger players and they will not have been disappointed in what the next generation of OURFC talent has to offer! Three players made their debuts for the Blues, coming off the bench in the second half – full-back Chris O’Halloran (Worcester), fly-half Will Dace (Hertford) & prop Dean Irvine (St Catherine’s), all having been part of the victorious U21 Varsity squad in December.
The Army started the match the stronger, but could not turn early pressure into points with their fly-half missing two relatively easy penalty opportunities in the first 10 minutes. With the Blues first foray into the Army 22 they came away with points, when I very well executed rolling maul form 20 metres was finished off when flanker Gus Jones (St Catherine’s) emerged from a pile of happy Oxford forwards to be credited with the try. Fly-half Charlie Marr (Trinity) added the conversion. The Army hit back almost immediately when their fly-half was successful with his third penalty attempt from in front of the posts. Oxford had the last word of the first half when having secured turn over ball they attacked quickly and decisively and centre Henry Lamont (New) delivered the final inside pass to wing Sean Morris (Trinity) who scooted over in the corner for a fine score, Marr was unsuccessful with the conversion which made the score at the interval 12 – 3 in Oxford’s favour.
The Blues returned after the break full of intent and Egerton leading by example, showed great awareness and speed to exploit a gap in the blind-side defence before throwing an audacious dummy to beat the full-back and dive rover for an unconverted try in the corner after just 5 minutes. The Army however, were not about to roll over and soon hit back when their giant Fijian second row was drive over form a 5 metre catch and drive line out. This Oxford squad showed that they were also no pushovers and newly elected OURFC Team Secretary Will Rowlands (Pembroke) showed just why he has been in the London Wasps squad the past two weeks when he showed impressive pace and agility for a 6’ 7” second row to beat three defenders and race in for the games best try from fully 40 metres following a fine off load from prop Jon Direen (Kellogg). Marr added the straight forward conversion. The pattern of play then became somewhat disrupted, as both coaches emptied their benches to give players valuable game time and it was the Army who had the last word when their No 8 dotted down from a 5 metre push over try, final score 24 points to 13.
Highlights of the match can be viewed at the following link:
Having beaten arguably the strongest of the three services side, the Blues can look ahead with a degree of optimism to the visit of the Royal Navy next Wednesday 13th February, kick off 1915 at Iffley Road.
Team Lewis Anderson, Nick Gardner, Jon Direen, Will Rowlands, Sam Hitchings, Fraser Heathcote, Gus Jones, Michael Rickner, Samson Egerton, Charlie Marr, Henry Hughes, Henry Lamont, Marcus Alexander Neil, Sean Morris, Will Boardman
Subs James Wisson (on for Nick Gardner), Dean Irvine (on for Jon Direen), Jack Calvert (on for Gus Jones), Sam Perrin (on for Jack Calvert), Matthew Shorthose (on for Henry Lamont), Will Dace (on for Charlie Marr), Chris O’Halloran (on for Will Boardman), Philip Bell (on for Samson Egerton)
Scores T: Will Rowlands (1), Gus Jones (1), Samson Egerton (1), Sean Morris (1) C: Charlie Marr (2)
Photography courtesy of Anthony Ainslee.