The weather conditions were always going to play a part in the outcome of this fixture as strong wind and occasional rain showers, blew for one end of the ground to the other, forcing most of the play into one end of the pitch in both halfs. The Navy took first advantage of the wind and their half backs kept Oxford pinned in their own 22 for long periods of play with astute tactical kicking, but the Blues keeping the ball in hand and showing patience managed to get into the Navy 22 on a few occasions but unfortunately a forced pass or dropped ball denied them the opportunity to post some points. The Navy eventually took advantage of the elements and following a concerted period of pressure, second row forward Marsh Cormack crashed over from short range to score a try with full-back Jon Humphrey adding the conversion. The Navy continued to press on the Oxford line, but solid and determined defence kept them at bay until another series of driving line-outs in the students 22 saw hooker Ben Priddy emerge from the pile of bodies to claim the score, again Humphrey added the extras. That made the score at the interval 14 – 0 in favour of the home side, but it never felt quite enough and that proved to be the case as the Blues came out firing in the second half and were soon pressing the Navy line. With Captain Jacob Taylor (Keble) controlling things from fly-half the Blues were prepared to move the ball between backs and forwards as they probed for an opening in the resolute Navy defence and they were rewarded after 50 minutes when Ed Doe (Kellogg) having moved from centre to full-back at the break, cut a lovely line to scorch in under the posts with Taylor adding the straight forward conversion. It wasn’t long before he Blues narrowed the gap even further when George Postlethwaite (St Peter’s), having come on to make his debut for the Blues on the wing at half-time, was on the end of another period of attacking play to dive over the corner, this time Taylor’s conversion attempt sailed wide. Postlethwaite must have thought all his birthdays had come at once as juts 5 minutes later he was once again in the right place to score at out wide, to give Oxford the lead for the first time, again Taylor could not add the extras. With the Blues now 3 point ahead the next score was going to prove decisive, but the wind was perhaps even stronger now and the Navy couldn’t get out of their own half and it wasn’t long before the pressure told and a well controlled catch and drive from a line-out resulted in flanker Chris Williams (University) being driven over for an unconverted try. Oxford continued to press the Navy try line, but could not quite finish of a couple of breaks, resulting in the final score of 22 points to 14. The Navy coaches nominated Pembroke’s second row Will Rowlands as Man of the Match for his towering performance in the line out and prominence in the loose, the bottle of Champagne was very well received.
The Blues now return to Iffley Road after a three week absence when they entertain the Welsh Crawshays Invitational side on Wednesday 19th February, kick off 7.15pm. Please check the website for updates on the weather conditions whether the game can go ahead as scheduled.
Team Lewis Anderson, Nick Gardner, Michael Hannah, Graeme MacGilchrist, Will Rowlands, Chris Williams, Gus Jones, Alexander Macdonald, Matthew Shorthose, Jacob Taylor, Don Oboh, Henry Hughes, Edward Doe, Oakley Cox, Sam Dumigan
Subs Guy Western (on for Gus Jones), Dean Irvine (on for Nick Gardner), Ben Symington (on for Michael Hannah), George Postlethwaite (on for Don Oboh), James Bennington (on for Oakley Cox), Steven Patch
Scores T: Chris Williams (1), Edward Doe (1) George Postlethwaite (2) C: Jacob Taylor (1)