The Blues beat a brave Navy side 21-14 on Wednesday night, but the quality of their play did not reach the sparkling heights of their brilliant triumph over the Army the week before. The Iffley Road Stadium was unplayable and so the boys made their way down to Portsmouth to take on the Navy at their home base. Alas, the conditions were bleaker than the grimmer portions of Dostoyevsky and creativity was accordingly stifled. In addition, a young Blues side perhaps tried to play too much rugby in their own half early on and struggled to make headway against a good Navy defence and a strong headwind. Fly-half Charlie Marr (Trinity) who possesses a fine boot and a beautiful pass, took control in the latter portions of the first half to convert possession into territory. The Blues capitalised and scored through Freshman centre Henry Lamont (New) who has the quickest feet since a young Fred Astaire trod the boards. The Navy struck back soon after through strong forward play to level the scores from full-back James Marlin with scrum-half Dave Pascoe adding the conversion. With half-time rapidly approaching it looked as though the first half spoils would be shared, but unfortunately fly-half Marr had a clearing kick charged down and the Navy hooker Chris McCardle kicked ahead and won the race to touch down under the posts, Pascoe adding the straight forward conversion to make the score at the break 14 – 7 in favour of the Mariners.
Just two minutes into the second half No. 8 Fraser Heathcote (St Edmund Hall) barged over the line from close range to level the scores, with Marr once again on target with the conversion. Not long after, Sam Egerton (Keble) having moved from scrum-half to centre, then scored a decisive try for the Blues, sniping around the ruck to restore the Blues lead to 7 points with Marr again kicking the extras. Egerton is a player of such quality that he will surely be offered a professional contract once he has concluded his law studies.
Gus Jones (St Catherine’s) former England U18’s Captain and recent replacement for the England U20’s against Scotland, led the side as an 18 year old Freshman and was typically brave at the breakdown and tackle, perhaps giving a glimpse of a future OURFC Captain! Sam Perrin (St Catherine’s) a former Special Forces soldier who came off the bench, had performed stoically against his old comrades in the Army and was similarly effective in defence against the Navy.
The Blues were heartened to see the return of Club Captain John Carter (Kellogg) from the knee injury that forced him out of the Varsity Match. Carter was typically robust in contact and made both yards and big hits over the course of the second half. Carter is a veritable Tyrannosaurus Rex, not so much for the ferocity of his play, but rather for his apparent inability to use his arms in contact.
In the backs, the recently elected Vincent’s President, Marcus-Alexander Neil (St Hilda’s) was a rock in defence at inside centre. Neil is a brutal front-on defender and rocked the Navy’s midfield on a few occasions. Equally, Tom Reeson-Price (St John’s) and Will Darby (St Edmund Hall), both stalwarts of the U21’s, made strong debuts and look set for distinguished careers in the senior OURFC team.
Winger Henry Hughes (Magdalen) was named the Man of the Match. Hughes, a second year medic, offers hope to the less physically dominant rugby player. Initially a slightly under-sized flanker, through grit, hard work and an extraordinarily brave approach, Hughes has transformed himself into a class winger and will be integral to the Blues’ next Varsity campaign. Coach James Wade, ever the master tactician, made some astute substitutions, particularly bringing on your humble author in the latter part of the match. One of the highlights of the game was a scintillating run made by said author down the left wing in the last minutes of the game. Alas, after several goose-steps, dummies and swivels, he was desperately unlucky to be brought down about 3m from the point of commencement.
The next Blues game is at home against Crayshays – the Welsh Invitational side – on Wednesday 20th February at 1915hrs and promises to be another first class match.
Team Lewis Anderson, John William Darby, Jon Direen, Will Rowlands, Tom Reeson-Price, Gus Jones, James Harris, Fraser Heathcote, Samson Egerton, Charlie Marr, Henry Hughes, Marcus Alexander Neil, Henry Lamont, Sean Morris, Will Boardman
Subs Sung Park (on for John William Darby), Dean Irvine (on for Jon Direen), Sam Perrin (on for James Harris), John Carter (on for Gus Jones), Matthew Shorthose (on for Marcus Alexander Neil), Chris O’Halloran (on for Will Boardman), Hugo Batten (on for Henry Hughes)
Scores T: Fraser Heathcote (1), Samson Egerton (1), Henry Lamont (1) C: Charlie Marr (3)