Oxford University coach James Wade remained positive despite the Blues being surprisingly beaten 17 points to 35 by the RAF at Iffley Road; an historic first victory for the RAF against Oxford.
Oxford fielded a much changed XV, only Lewis Anderson and Henry Lamont starting from the side that thrashed Cambridge at Twickenham in December to win the Varsity Match. Wade claimed the game, along with the rest of this term, was more about developing some promising U21 players, rather than results. Oxford racked up three tries in the match, wingers Henry Hughes and Jack Glancy touched down in the first half and Ed Doe snatched a try in the final moments of the game to reduce the deficit to 18 points. The RAF had all the territory in the opening stages, but the new-look Blues defence battled bravely to deny the airmen many try-scoring opportunities. However it was again the penalty count that let the Blues down, conceding three in the first half, all of which RAF fly-half Andy Byrne had no trouble converting. Nonetheless the Blues, playing in their change-kit of white, seemed to have an extra clinical edge early on. Henry Hughes and Jack Glancy grabbed a try each after fine quick-flowing play by the backs. 22 year-old fly half Will Dace impressed when he converted his first attempt excellently from a narrow angle. But the RAF weren’t going to lie down and accept defeat. A try either-side of half-time gave them an unexpected nine point lead. The pick of the two tries was from winger Toby Mann who finished off a beautiful blindside move in superb fashion.
Oxford fought back and excited the packed crowd at Iffley Road with some intricate passes which opened up the RAF back-line. But the Blues were not to take advantage and small handling errors hampered their chances. On the hour-mark Oxford centre Henry Lamont was forced off with a nasty looking knock to the head, although he was OK post-match. The airmen were quick to punish the young Oxford side with two well-worked tries. Fly-half Andy Byrne continued his fine evening by converting both to give the RAF a convincing 23 point lead. A 78th minute try from replacement Ed Doe lessened the defeat for Oxford and gave the University supporters something to cheer about late in the game on the bitterly cold January night.
After the game James Wade praised his young side noting that the future of the Blues looks bright. “Today was a big test for the team who were mainly U21s and Greyhounds,” said Wade, “There is a big step-up to Blues level and a good number of the boys shone through tonight. Particularly the number eight Sam Howard who had a great game tonight.”
The Blues face the Royal Navy next up at Iffley Road on Wednesday 4th February, kick-off 7.15pm. Wade will be looking for more impressive performances against the Navy as he develops his squad ahead of the 2015 Varsity campaign.
David Lewis – OURFC Press Officer
Team Lewis Anderson, Daniel Radigan, Ben Symington, Tom Hilton-Stevens, Graeme MacGilchrist, Jonathan Marsden, Ralph Weir, Sam Howard, Henry de Berker, Will Dace, John Glancy, Basil Strang, Henry Lamont, Henry Hughes, Matt Geiger
Subs James Scaife (on for Ben Symington), Hugo Lu (on for Lewis Anderson), Edward Doe (on for Will Dace), Daniel Gott (on for Henry de Berker), George Eyre (on for Basil Strang), Ed David (on for John Glancy), James Bennington (on for Henry Hughes)
ScoresT: Edward Doe (1), John Glancy (1), Henry Hughes (1) C: Basil Strang (1)