It was perfect rugby weather as the Combined Services U23s ran out against an Oxbridge U23’s side at Twickenham Stadium for their annual fixture as the curtain raiser to the Army vs Navy fixture on Saturday 5th May.
Both teams started strong in defence but errors in attack from both sides gifted possession back and forth. 8 mins in the CS got a penalty in kicking range but the kick just fell short keeping the score to 0 – 0. On the 20 min mark Oxbridge looked like they would put the first points on the board with some good handling skills ending in a break down the wing, only to be stopped in their tracks by a supreme individual effort from the CS full-back. Both sides continued to apply pressure to each other causing more forced errors. Finally a penalty against Oxbridge gave CS the opportunity to kick and put the first points on the board in 27th minute. The game continued to swing back and forth until the 34th minute when Oxbridge put on a well worked backs move to go in for the first try from Cambridge wing Elliott Baines; the conversion attempt was good from Oxford fly-half Louis Pincott, making the score CS 3 Oxbridge 7 at the interval.
The second half kicked off and it looked to be Oxbridge’s day with some good work from the forwards ending in their second try from Oxford’s Tom Stileman playing in the centre with Pincott again converting putting Oxbridge 14 – 3 ahead. Oxbridge then started bringing on replacements to keep their momentum with the CS following suit; this was the key turning point in the game with the fresh CS players lifting the intensity. Oxbridge had some sustained pressure but aggressive defence from CS team forced Oxbridge to make some silly mistakes. In the 56th minute more changes for both teams happened, but as Oxbridge’s discipline seemed to drop the CS forwards seemed to start clicking. Oxbridge struggled to contain CS in the scrum forcing a poor kick from their scrum half which didn’t find touch but was gathered up by CS and put them straight on the attack. The forwards laid a good platform which allowed the backs to start working, putting CS in for their first try of the game in the 62nd minute; the conversion was also good narrowing the gap to just 4 points. CS started to dominate the game at this point with their fitness kicking in, allowing them to keep applying the pressure in the Oxbridge half. In the 66th minute a good line out from CS led to a rolling maul and they drove over the try line but the try is disallowed for a penalty infringement in the maul. Oxbridge tried to get back into the game but CS pressure caused another poor kick to be put in which was easily gathered by CS whose forwards began to get on a roll and easily powered out of their own half. Finally the Oxbridge defence cracked and CS went in under the posts on the 71st minute. The conversion no problem pushing the into the lad by 3 points. Despite their best efforts Oxbridge did not have enough left in the tank leaving the finals score 17 points to 14 in favour of the Combined Services side.
Man of the match went to CS No 6 Kieron Forbes.
Ben Parker (Ox), Abi Oswal (Ox), John Aaron Henry * (Ox), Ollie Adams * (Ox), Charlie Pozniak * (Ox), Sam Miller (Ox), Miles Huppatz * (Cam), Will Dean * (Cam), Tom Wilson (Cam), Jordan Ericksen (Cam), Oliver Smart (Cam), Stephen Leonard * (Cam), Buchan Richardson * (Cam)
Ed David * (Ox), Tom Stileman * (Ox), Seb Haddock (Ox), Henry Martin (Ox), Tom Kershaw * (Ox), Louis Pincott (Ox), Elliot Baines (Cam), Owen Perks (Cam), Dan Blick (Cam), Joe Story (Cam), Thomas Bewes (Cam) (travelling reserve)