On a perfect afternoon for rugby at Iffley Road on Sunday, the Blues rattled a strong Worcester side for the first 55 minutes opening up a 25 point to 10 lead by playing attractive, controlled, attacking rugby which resulted in them scoring three tries. Unfortunately, Worcester had not read the script and fought back in the last 25 minutes with 24 unanswered points, helped by a sin bin and numerous changes on the Oxford team.
Despite enjoying early territorial advantage, it was Oxford who struck first, fly-half Jacob Taylor kicking a penalty after just three minutes. Worcester then continued to press, but a break away up field resulted in the Oxford hooker Nick Gardner, pilfering the ball form at a maul and scampering in from 20 meters, Taylor adding the conversion. Soon after the Blues added a second try, when giant second row forward Will Rowlands, broke clear and proceeded to eat up the metres like Usain Bolt, before perfectly timing his pass to the supporting winger Henry Lamont who beat the cover to score a fantastic try out wide, Taylor was this time unsuccessful with the conversion. With their confidence raised the Blues continued to exert pressure but couldn’t only add a second Taylor penalty to their score, before Worcester hit back either side of half-time with two unconverted tries from centre Max Stelling and full-back Ben Howard. Oxford were not finished yet and 10 minutes in to the second period extended their lead to 15 points, when Will Rowlands was driven over from a very effective rolling maul, Taylor once again adding the extras. However, it was at this point that the tide started to turn against the home team as Worcester gained a foot hold and the momentum swung and was never reversed. Prop Lewis Anderson was sent to the sin bin which was the catalyst for the Premiership sides revival as they scored three converted tries and a penalty try to make the final score somewhat skewed in their favour, 34 points to 25.
The squad will now have a week’s intensive preparation for the visit of the Russian National team next Sunday, KO 3.00pm at Iffley Road, hoping to recapture the form of the first 55 minutes yesterday.
Team Lewis Anderson, Nick Gardner, Ian Williams, Michael Rickner, Will Rowlands, Gus Jones, James Harris, Graeme MacGilchrist, Samson Egerton, Jacob Taylor, Henry Lamont, Gav Turner, Matt Janney, Sebastian Williams, Edward Doe
Subs Fraser Heathcote (on for Nick Gardner), Dean Irvine (on for Lewis Anderson), Michael Hannah (on for Ian Williams), Tom Reeson-Price (on for Michael Rickner), John Carter (on for Graeme MacGilchrist), Matthew Shorthose (on for Samson Egerton), Marcus-Alexander Neil (on for Henry Lamont)
Scores T: Nick Gardner (1), Will Rowlands (1), Henry Lamont (1) C: Jacob Taylor (2) P: Jacob Taylor (2)