The Blues travelled to south-west London on Tuesday night to face high flying Richmond in confident mood after three successive victories and the return of Captain Jacob Taylor from injury. Richmond are currently sitting second in National 1 unbeaten after five games and the club as a whole from 1st XV to Veterans is yet to lose a match this season and it was evident on Tuesday night that they wished to remain unbeaten! With the weather being kind after two days of rain, conditions were perfect for both teams to play an attacking brand of rugby and to entertain the good crowd that had gathered. It was the Blues who started the game the strongest and for the first ten minutes they dominated possession and territory. Centre Matt Janney was unsuccessful with a long range penalty during this period, but after twelve minutes he found his range to opening the scoring with a well struck penalty. The Blues continued to exert pressure on the home team and were rewarded with the first try of the match when fly-half George Cullen found touch deep in the Richmond 22 from a penalty, the forwards then orchestrated a well constructed catch and drive from the ensuing line-out which resulted in second row Tom Reeson Price being driven over for the score. Cullen was successful with the conversion from wide out. As the interval approached the home side began to find some form and aided by the return of their prop from the sin-bin started to cause the Blues defence some difficulties. On the stroke of half-time scrum-half Callum Grant threw an outrageous dummy from the base of a ruck which fooled a number of the Oxford forwards before sniping over form close range. Full-back James Platt added the difficult conversion to make the score at the break 8 – 7 in favour of Oxford.
The break saw both teams make changes to their personnel but it was the home side who seemed to be least effected by the alterations and they were soon ahead on the scoreboard, when Grant repeated his trick of the first half to score his second try which Platt again converted. The second period was rather messy with both teams committed to attack but lacking the accuracy to finish off some good breaks and the referee finding many reasons to penalise players, particularly at the break-down. AS the final quarter of the match approached Richmond extended their lead when replacement scrum-half Paul Nash, not to be outshone by the man he replaced, spotted a lazy defender on the blind-side and was quick to exploit the gap and race in from 20 metres, again added the extras. This was a wake-up call for the Oxford side and they redoubled their efforts to keep their winning streak intact, and narrowed the deficit when flanker George Messum, who enjoyed another fine performance in the Dark Blue jersey, showed good pace for a big man to outstrip the cover defence and touch down in the corner. Cullen added a fine conversion to narrow the margin to within a converted try. At the death it looked as though Oxford would have a chance to snatch a late victory, as they drove for the line, but a knock-on just inches short of the line saw their chance gone as the referee blew fro full-time, final score 21 – 15 to Richmond.
Whilst the squad were disappointed with the loss, they recognise that their are valuable lessons to be taken form the performance which will now look to work on before they welcome Nottingham to Iffley Road on Tuesday 14th October for their next fixture.
Team Lewis Anderson, James Wisson, Ian Williams, Graeme MacGilchrist, Tom Reeson-Price, Sam Peter, George Messum, Fraser Heathcote, Samson Egerton, George Cullen, Henry Lamont, Alexander Macdonald, Matt Janney, Edward Doe, Jacob Taylor
Subs Daniel Radigan (on for James Wisson), James Scaife (on for Lewis Anderson), Guy Western (on for Ian Williams), Fergus Taylor (on for Graeme MacGilchrist), Will Thomas (on for Sam Peter), Matt Geiger (on for Samson Egerton), Christopher Goodfellow (on for Edward Doe), Henry Hughes (on for Jacob Taylor)
ScoresT: Tom Reeson-Price (1), George Messum (1) C: George Cullen (1) P: Matt Janney (1)