They say a week is a long time in politics, this last week the same analogy can be made to sport. This time last week Captain George Messum had thirteen Blues in the starting XV for this always tough fixture with Trinity College, Dublin, come kick-off four of those key players were stood on the touchline at College Park! Lewis Anderson, Henry Lamont & Jacob Taylor all picked up injuries playing in the semi-finals of the Cuppers competition, whilst Gus Jones succumbed to a severe migraine 90 minutes before kick-off. However, OURFC firmly believe in a ‘no-excuse’ culture and the injuries presented opportunities to some of the younger members of the senior squad to impress George and Head Coach James Wade. The weather in Dublin was perfect, with clear blue skies overhead and temperatures in the region of 11 degrees and from the outset both teams showed a clear intent to keep ball in hand and play with pace and vision. Trinity were first to score when fly-half Tommy Whittle stepped through half a gap to score under the posts with full-back Conor Kearns adding the simple conversion. Unfortunately for TCD that was Whittle’s last contribution as he tweaked a hamstring in the act of scoring. The visitors then came back strong, and with Messum in the blood bin receiving stitches in a head wound, his replacement Dan Radigan burst trhough the defence and looked to be on his way to a certain try when a last ditch ankle tap brought him down metres short. However, soon after Trinity offended at the break down and fly-half George Cullen kicked the straight forward penalty. As the half progressed both sides continued to stretch each others defence, but couldn’t make the final scoring pass and the only addition to the scoreboard was penalty by Kearns for the home team to make the score at the interval 10 points to 3. By half-time Oxford had lost their own fly-half when George Cullen left the field with an ankle injury, the ever versatile Zandy Macdonald moving in from 12 to take on the role of play-maker. For the first 15 minutes of the second period, Oxford were very much in the contest but as the half wore on and further injuries sustained – scrum-half Henry de Berker had to leave when his hamstring tightened, Matt Geiger taking over at 9, centre Henry Hughes was next with a shoulder ‘stinger’, soon to be followed by back row Tom Reeson Price. With 20 minutes to go Oxford now had five front forwards on the field and two forwards filling positions in the backs, needless to say the home side showed a ruthlessness that comes from regular All Ireland League rugby and ran in four tries in the final quarter to somewhat distort the final scoreline. Man of the Match Tim Maupin scored two of the tries from the right wing, whilst the very impresssive flanker Brian du Toit added one and replacement Brian Slater the other, Kearns converting two to make the final score 34 points to 3. Oxford were left to nurse their wounds and look ahead to August and the start of the 2015 Varsity campaign, whilst Trinity have two crucial league matches to come as they push for promotion.
Team Hugo Lu, Fergus Taylor, Ian Williams, Graeme MacGilchrist, Tom Reeson Price, Sam Howard, Gus Jones, George Messum, Henry de Berker, George Cullen, Ed David, Alexander Macdonald, Henry Hughes, Oliver Shorthose, Matt Geiger
Subs Daniel Radigan (on for George Cullen), Ben Symington (on for Tom Reeson Price), Dean Irvine (on for Hugo Lu), Tom Hilton-Stevens (on for Gus Jones), Daniel Gott (on for Henry de Berker)
Scores P: George Cullen (1)