For the last day of October, the weather was incredible as the Blues took on the Croatian National team in a sunny Zagreb for only the second in their history, the previous encounter in April 2014 ended in a 17 points all draw. On this occasion the Blues were not in such a charitable mood as they ran in seven tries in a positive performance in front of a large, partisan crowd who had come to the see the National team in their warm-up game prior to taking on Israel and Malta over the next two weeks in the tier three of the Six Nations Competition.
With conditions so good both teams looked to spread the ball, but it was the Blues who showed the greater accuracy and composure when chances were created and by half-time they lead by 22 points to nil. Left wing Tom Stileman (St Peter’s) opened the scoring when he was given the ball 40 metres out and showed a clean pair of heals to dot down under the posts. Full back Andrew Abraham (Regent’s Park) duly added the extra points with a simple conversion. Next to cross was powerful second row Fergus Taylor (St Catherine’s) who enjoyed a good game in both the tight and loose, when he was driven over form a 4 meter line-out, this time Abraham was unable to convert. However, Abraham was soon on the scoresheet again when the Croatian right wing dropped the ball in the Oxford 22 and the Blues full-back pounced on the loose ball and then showed great pace to run in from fully 90 meters, again he was unable to convert. On the stoke of half-time centre Henry Hughes (Magdalen) was able to add the Blues fourth try when he spotted a gap in the home team’s defence and cross out wide to make the score at the interval 22 nil.
The second followed a similar pattern to the first with the Blues scrum totally dominant, the line-out effective and the backs offering plenty of danger out wide. However, it was the home side that opening the scoring in the second period, when their fly-half delivered a perfect cross field kick to the corner which was athletically caught by the winger to touch down in the corner for an unconverted try. The Blues responded almost immediately when Taylor scored his second as he powered his way over from 5 meters, Abraham converting. Scrum-half Henry de Berker (Green Templeton) was next to cross when he weaved his way through a tiring Croatian defence to score under the posts, Abraham was again successful with the extras. The final score came with just under 5 minutes to play when centre Henry Lamont (New) raced in from 20 metres to score by the corner flag, final score 41 points to 5.
The Blues will now enjoy a 9 day rest before taking on Bristol at Iffley Road on Monday 9th November, kick off 7.30pm.
Team Kieran Ball, Richard Halpin, Ian Williams, Fergus Taylor, Nicholas Roberts-Huntley, James Faktor, William Thornton, George Messum, Henry de Berker, George Cullen, Guy Fairburn, Henry Lamont, Henry Hughes, Tom Stileman, Christopher Goodfellow
Subs Lewis Anderson, Hugo Lu, Jonathan Marsden, Graeme MacGilchrist, Tom Kershaw, Andrew Abraham, Oliver Shorthose
Scores T: Fergus Taylor (5), Henry de Berker (2), Henry Hughes (1), Henry Lamont (1), Andrew Abraham (1) C: Andrew Abraham (2)