Oxford University bowed out from Iffley Road for this season with a brilliant 29-10 victory against The Penguins to lift the Alan Wright Trophy for the first time. Captain George Messum was proud of his side’s impressive comeback which saw the Blues rack up five tries courtesy of Nick Gardner, Jacob Taylor, Ed David, Zandy MacDonald and Lewis Anderson.
In the annual charity match against the invitational side, the Blues wore bespoke white jerseys to celebrate the start of their charity partnership with ‘Winston’s Wish’. However it took some time for Oxford to warm up on the cold March evening. Within 20 minutes they allowed the Penguins to score two straight-forward tries. On both occasions the Penguins swift passing carved open the Oxford back-line which allowed number eight Daniel Browne and centre Mike Doneghan to power home down the wing. After a small lull in the game, the home faithful were eventually woken up in the 34th minute when hooker Nick Gardner sprinted home for Oxford’s first try. The St Anne’s student latched on to a brilliant chip kick from fly-half Jacob Taylor which unlocked the Penguins defence. Taylor turned from provider to scorer just five minutes later as his clever jinking run fooled the Penguins and he quickly capitalised to level the scores. With the last kick of the half the former Oxford captain converted his own try to give Oxford a narrow two point advantage.
The Blues enjoyed the majority of territory at the start of the second half, and in the 57th minute Oxford’s perseverance paid off when winger Ed David pounced on to a loose ball. After some consideration the referee deemed David’s effort was a try and he was awarded his first try for the Blues, Taylor was unable to convert from a tight angle. With the wind behind their sails the Blues added a fourth try as Zandy MacDonald raced past the Penguins back-line to extend the lead to 12 points. Again it was Jacob Taylor who pulled the strings with a beautiful weighted kick that released MacDonald for the try. Although the game was billed as a charity match, Oxford certainly didn’t offer any hand-outs as they dictated the proceedings in the second half. The Blues party was in full swing when in the 72nd minute prop Lewis Anderson bundled over from close range. In the final five minutes the Oxford back-line was put under heavy pressure after both Zandy MacDonald and Henry Lamont were sin-binned for technical offences. Nonetheless Oxford held on through valiant defending that summed up Oxford’s all-round performance.
After the game OURFC Captain George Messum expressed his delight in the comeback.
“In the second half we showed a bit more self-belief and started to put them under pressure,” Messum told OURFC.org. “I’m really delighted with the performance from the team today and if we play like that next season we can do some serious damage. It’s not just the 23 players that get on to the pitch, it’s the huge amount of support from the backroom and the fans which make this club really special. We look forward to repaying them next season”.
Oxford finish the 2014/15 season with an away trip to Trinity College Dublin in two weeks, on Wednesday 18th March kick off 4.00pm in College Park.
Team Lewis Anderson, Nick Gardner, Ben Symington, Fergus Taylor, Tom Hilton-Stevens, Jonathan Marsden, Sam Howard, George Messum, Henry de Berker, Jacob Taylor, Ed David, Henry Lamont, Alexander Macdonald, Henry Hughes, Matt Geiger
Subs Daniel Radigan (on for Nick Gardner), Hugo Lu (on for Lewis Anderson), James Faktor (on for Tom Hilton-Stevens), Oliver Shorthose (on for Matt Geiger), John Glancy (on for Ed David), George Summerton, James Bennington
Scores T: Lewis Anderson (1), Nick Gardner (1), Alexander Macdonald (1), Ed David (1), Jacob Taylor (1) C: Henry de Berker (2)