On Wednesday 10th February, OURFC hosted the British Army at Iffley Road in their annual encounter for the Mike Campbell-Lamerton Cup with the visitors retaining the trophy in an entertaining, hard fought match. It was Oxford that started the brighter, securing possession at set piece and the break down and stringing phases of play together, when after just 3 minutes a clever box kick by scrum-half Henry de Berker was pounced on by left wing Tom Stileman who was far to quick for the cover defence and raced away to score the try. Fly-half Andrew Abraham added the extras from the tee. Sadly this was to be the last we saw of the exciting Stileman, as he limped of moments after with a hamstring strain. Oxford continued to play with pace and purpose for the next 10 to 15 minutes, but resolute Army defence kept the students at bay and the score remained 7 points to nil. On the 30 minute mark the Army fly-half LBdr Davies, chipped over the on-rushing Oxford defense, re-gathered his own kick and ran unopposed to score under the posts, the conversion was a formality for the try scorer as he levelled the scores. With half-time approaching, the Army started to find their rhythm and were rewarded with a second try, when one missed tackle lead to space being created out wide which was exploited by the Army’s Fijian left wing Tpr Sokia who scored in the corner, Davies kicking the difficult touchline conversion to make the score at the interval 14 points to 7 in favour of the visitors.
With both sides making changes at the break, it took a while for the match to regain it’s structure, but once it did Oxford stared to pressure the Army defence again with another period of concerted possession and territory, however one dropped ball within metres of the Army tryline was pounced on by the Army’s replacement wing Pte O’Reilly, who showed pace and guile to outwit the covering Oxford defence to race fully 80 metres and score under the posts, again Davies was on target with the conversion. This proved to be the last points scored in the match, but it was certainly not the end of the action as each team continued to attack the other and look for a weakness in the opposition line. Oxford withstood a concerted period of pressure on their own line, but the same resilience they showed at Twickenham last December was once more evident as they refused to let the Army cross their line again. The final 5 minutes of the match saw Oxford lay siege to the Army tryline, and with the visitors reduced to 13 men with two players in the sin bin, it appeared only a matter of time before the score would come. However, this time it was the Army’s turn to show their mettle and desperate defence and a couple of last ditch tackles prevents Oxford from grasping a last minuet consolation score.
Oxford now have a week off before they travel to Portsmouth on Wednesday 24th February to take on the Royal Navy in their penultimate 15-a-side match of the 2015/16 season, kick off is 1915 at the United Services Ground.
Team Lewis Anderson, William Thornton, Kieran Ball, Fergus Taylor, Andrew Grant, Graeme MacGilchrist, William Wilson, Sam Howard, Henry de Berker, Andrew Abraham, Ed David, Henry Lamont, Henry Hughes, Tom Stileman, Matt Geiger
Subs Daniel Radigan (on for William Thornton), Dean Irvine (on for Lewis Anderson), Jonathan Marsden (on for Andrew Grant), Tom Kershaw (on for Henry de Berker), Oliver Shorthose (on for Ed David), Guy Fairburn (on for Tom Stileman), Jacob Goss (on for Sam Howard), Stephen Hyde (on for Henry Lamont), Hugo Lu, Fraser Heathcote
ScoresT: Tom Stileman (1) C: Andrew Abraham (1)