The 2017 Men’s Blues Tour finished in style with a superb victory against a strong Old Blue side containing five US Eagles, at Columbia University under lights on Friday night. Following an intense week of training, sightseeing and socialising the squad were tired but determined to finish the tour on a high and secure an unbeaten record. As such they started the game in strong fashion and were rewarded with an early score, when No 8 Andy Saull pounced on a loose kick from Old Blue, chipped over full-back, skilfully regathered the ball and dotted down for his first OURFC try. Captain Conor Kearns added the extra two points from out wide. Following a further period of pressure in the Old Blue 22, Kearns slotted a simple penalty to extend Oxford’s lead to 10 nil. This stung Old Blue in to action and they started to exert some pressure in the Oxford 22 and got their reward with a well-constructed catch and drive line-out for an unconverted try.
Oxford then hit back, when they forced a 22 meter drop out which Kearns collected just inside the Old Blue half and proceeded to hit a ‘Francois Steyn’ style drop goal straight between the sticks from fully 45 metres. This was followed soon after by a length of the field try form Oxford. Scrum-half Tom Kershaw fed left wing Tom Stileman who burst up the blind side, before he passed back inside to the supporting back rower James Beaufils who showed a clean pair of heals to put the ball down between the posts for Kearns to add the extras. With Oxford starting to play with freedom it looked as though they would soon extend their lead, however it was Old Blue who scored next when their No 8, loitering in midfield intercepted a pass and strolled in under the posts for a converted try. This ‘blip’ did not distract the visitors however, and on the stroke of half-time a turnover in midfield from Saull was quickly moved wide to full-back Sam Edgerley who released right wing Tom Hammond, who avoided his opposite number and the touch line to score in the corner, this time Kearns was off target with the conversion. Half time score 25 – 12.
Old Blue started the second half determined to make their mark and 10 minutes in scored a converted try when their second row forward crashed over form short range following a series of rucks in the Oxford 22, to narrow the gap to just six points. At this point coach James Wade brought on fresh legs as some of the Oxford guys showed signs of fatigue following a gruelling two weeks and this brought renewed energy to the visitors play. With the clock ticking down to eight minutes left, the Oxford forwards pressed strongly and set up their own catch and drive form 15 metres which resulted in replacement back row forward Sam Miller being driven over, once again Kearns was on target to add the extras and stretch the lead to 13 points. The final minutes saw Old Blues hammer away at the Oxford line, but resolute and determined defence kept them at bay leaving the final score at 32 points to 19 in favour of the tourists.
Full-back Sam Edgerley was deserving of his Man of the Match Award, presented to him post-match by the Old Blue President.
The squad will now enjoy a few days rest on their return to the UK, before beginning their preparations for the visit of Gloucester to Iffley Road on Wednesday 4th October.
Team Kieran Ball, John Aaron Henry, Noah Miller, Ollie Adams, Hugo McPherson, James Beaufils, William Thornton, Andy Saull, Tom Kershaw, Conor Kearns, Tom Stileman, Sebastian Haddock, Tom Hammond, Sam Edgerley
Subs Ed Elvin (on for John Aaron Henry), Ben Parker (on for Kieran Ball), Michael Gorry (on for Noah Miller), George Warr (on for Ollie Adams), Sam Miller (on for William Thornton), Robbie Fraser (on for Ed Elvin), Rob Qinlan (on for Sebastian Haddock), Charlie Pozniak (on for Hugo McPherson), Thom Foster (on for Conor Kearns)
Scores T: James Beaufils (1), Sam Miller (1), Andy Saull (1), Tom Hammond (1) C: Conor Kearns (3) P: Conor Kearns (1) D: Conor Kearns (1)