The Major Stanley’s XV denied Oxford University a ninth successive victory against the odds in their annual meeting as the two sides battled out a hard fought 26-26 draw. Captain Jacob Taylor had a chance in the last minute to secure the Blues their first win in three games, but his unsuccessful penalty confined the match to a tie. Oxford scrum-half Sam Egerton earned himself a second successive Man-of-the-Match award with a try in both halves. Taylor and lock Tom Reeson Price scored the first-half tries but the Blues were never in full control of the match. The enthralling occasion was fittingly opened when Blues captain Jacob Taylor scored a converted try within the first two minutes to open the scoring under the posts, much to the delight of the Iffley Road support. Major Stanley’s replied in the 17th minute when winger Xavier Andre, of Henley Hawks, squeezed over the line right in the corner, full-back Chris Elder hitting the post with the difficult conversion. A sturdy Blues drive allowed Oxford to extend their lead as Tom Reeson Price went over to score his sixth try of the season on 22 minutes. However, the Blues advantage didn’t last long as the Stanley’s backs sliced through the Oxford defence twice in two minutes to take the lead for the first time. On both occasions the London Welsh full-back Chris Elder was instrumental in the play; scoring the first himself and setting up James Copsey for the second, Elder converting both. Oxford scrum-half Sam Egerton scored tries either side of half-time, in the 34th minute and 46th minute, to restore the slender seven point advantage for the Dark Blues. But it was the former Cambridge Blue, Dave O’Brien, who scored a 57th minute try which halted the Oxford celebrations. O’Brien battled his way over the try-line from close range despite heavy tackles from the Oxford forwards. Both sides had opportunities to take the victory but neither were fruitful. Taylor’s last minute unsuccessful penalty “will focus the minds of the players” according to Oxford coach, James Wade. Wade remained confident despite a run of three games without a victory. “It would have been nice to get the win, it’s the icing on the cake at the end of the day,” Wade said, “But hopefully the poor form will inspire the boys in the next 20 days before Varsity.” Wade also looked back upon another successful Major Stanley’s match saying, “It was a great day for the club. This fixture is steeped in history and it was excellent to see so many here cheering on the boys”.
Oxford have just 20 days to prepare to the 133rd Varsity. The Blues face Loughborough University next Tuesday, in place of Northampton who cried off, in their last home game before the Twickenham clash. Be sure to come down to Iffley Road to wish the Dark Blues good luck.
Team Lewis Anderson, James Wisson, Ian Williams, Fergus Taylor, Tom Reeson Price, Sam Peter, Gus Jones, George Messum, Samson Egerton, George Cullen, Henry Lamont, Alexander Macdonald, Matt Janney, Basil Strang, Jacob Taylor
Subs Graeme MacGilchrist (on for Fergus Taylor), Will Thomas (on for Sam Peter), Henry de Berker (on for Samson Egerton), Christopher Goodfellow (on for George Cullen), Henry Hughes (on for Basil Strang), Ralph Weir (on for Gus Jones), Tom Quayle, James Scaife, Guy Western, Tom Hilton-Stevens
Scores T: Samson Egerton (2), Jacob Taylor (1), Tom Reeson Price (1) C: Matt Janney (3)