The Blues faced their sternest test so far in the 2015 Varsity Campaign when they entertained a young but strong Worcester side at Iffley Road on Tuesday night. Unfortunately the starting XV was depleted in the 24 hours prior to kick off when three backs were forced to pull out with minor injuries, centre Matt Janney, wing Henry Hughes and full-back Matt Geiger. This meant a reshuffle of the back division which resulted in the Worcester side taking an early advantage in the lack of cohesion in the Blues defence and scoring four tries in the opening quarter, two form centre Max Stelling and one each from wings Josh Adams & Alex Nesbitt, three of which were converted by fly-half Jamie Shillcock; in reply Oxford managed just a single penalty from the ever reliable boot of their own fly-half George Cullen. The next quarter saw the Blues battle their way back into the contest with the forwards taking the game to the Worcester pack head on and gaining filed position, if not points. With click ticking down to half-time Oxford laid siege to the Worcester line, but stern defence kept the Blues at bay to make the score at the break 26 point to 3 in favour of Worcester.
The second half started as the first, with Worcester grabbing an early try from full-back Ben Howard, which went unconverted, however the remainder of the half saw the Blues once again wrestle the initiative back from the visitors and this time they were rewarded with points on the board through two tries. Both were the result of controlled forward play and saw first tight head prop Ian Williams driven over from a 15 metre maul, followed soon after by debutant hooker Richie Halpin plunging over under a mass of bodies, both tries were of course converted by Cullen. These two scores narrowed the gap to just 14 points and it appeared as though the Blues had a chance to at least snatch a draw with fifteen minutes still to play. However, the Worcester side regrouped and the Blues were unable to add to their tally and the visitors had the last word with an unconverted try from replacement back row forward Ben Fowles to make the final score 36 point to 17 to Worcester.
Whilst the result was not what the Blues ultimately were after, there were a number of positive aspects to take from the game and they now look forward to a run of three away matches as the run into the 2015 Varsity Match continues.
Team Kieran Ball, Fergus Taylor, Ian Williams, Jonathan Marsden, Graeme MacGilchrist, George Messum, William Wilson, Fraser Heathcote, Henry de Berker, George Cullen, Ed David, Henry Lamont, Matt Janney, Henry Hughes, Matt Geiger
Subs Richard Halpin (on for Graeme MacGilchrist), Lewis Anderson (on for Kieran Ball), Rob Menzies-Wilson (on for Jonathan Marsden), Will Thomas (on for William Wilson), Ralph Weir (on for Fraser Heathcote), Matthew Shorthose (on for Henry de Berker), Christopher Goodfellow (on for Matt Geiger), Guy Fairburn (on for Henry Hughes), Hugo Lu
Scores T: Ian Williams (1), Richard Halpin (1) C: George Cullen (2) P: George Cullen (1)