A win and a draw for the Blues on historic Major Stanley’s Match Day

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Women’s Blues 14 Major Stanley’s XV 10 

Oxford skipper Hazel Ellender faces a race against time to be fit for the Varsity Match after picking up an injury to her left knee in the morale boosting win over a strong invitation side. The loose head prop damaged ligaments in her left knee and is set to have a scan to fully assess the damage. The Twickenham date with Cambridge is less than a month away on Thursday, 12 November. “I twisted my knee and the early diagnosis is slight damaged to a cruciate ligament. I’m hopeful that there is still enough time to get it sorted in time for the varsity match,” said Ellender. The Dark Blues skipper was delighted with the way in which her team reacted to their recent BUCS Premier South defeat to Cambridge at Grange Road and is confident they are back on track to upset the odds next month. It was an historic day all round at Iffley Road with the men’s team celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first game against Major Stanley’s XV and the women making their first appearance against the invitation side. “It was great to get the chance to play against a group of ex-Blues and the Stanley’s XV was very strong. They certainly gave us the kind of test we need before Twickenham,” added Ellender. “It was also good to get a game of that quality at the Varsity Match kick-off time of 11.30am. It gave the girls the chance to work on their match day preparations and routines for Twickenham. “The defeat at Grange Road certainly hurt, but it will have no bearing on what happens on the big day. I told the girls to take a couple of days to reflect on that performance and I’m confident we will come back stronger for the experience.” All the points in the game came in the first half with centre Zoe Nunn and wing Clodagh Holmes crossing for tries for the students.  Pat Metcalfe-Jones added both conversions, while the invitation side mustered two tries. The second half was all about strong defence for the home side – a quality they will need at Twickenham once again.

Women’s Blues: Clodagh Holmes (University); Helen Potts * (New), Zoe Nunn (St Catherine’s), Pat Metcalfe-Jones * (Christ Church), Maddie Hindson (Keble); Nina Jenkins (Keble), Sile Johnson (St Hugh’s); Hazel Ellender * (St Cross, captain), Anna Bidgood (University), Esme Haywood (Brasenose), Carla Schmidt (Balliol), Katie Collis * (Lincoln), Emily Cohen (Jesus), Ailsa Clark (Worcester), Hannah Cooper * (Worcester)
Reps: Shekinah Opara * (Keble), Jo Male (St Edmund Hall), Melanie Onovo (Christ Church), Phoebe Haste * (Trinity), Meryem Arik (Somerville), Connie Hurton * (Pembroke), Siobhan Pebody (St John’s), Maddy Ross (Balliol)

Major Stanley’s XV: Emily Stone * (Richmond); Imogen Duffy * (Richmond), Katarina Martinovic * (Richmond), Johanna Dombrowski * (Wasps), Georgia Ling * (London Irish); Catherine Wilcock * (Preston Grasshoppers), Tess Braunerova * (Richmond, captain); Sydney Sopher * (Bath), Susy Rees * (Unattached), Cecilia Peker * (Hampstead), Affi Bunting * (Oxford Ladies), Leanne Robinson * (Shelford & British Police), Liz Richards * (Cullompton), Charlie Willett * (Richmond), Sophie Behan * (Rosslyn Park)
Reps: Miranda Dechazal * (Shotton Steel), Jess Wynter-Bee * (Old Bristolians), Violet Smart * (Richmond), Ann Cooper * (Broughton Edinburgh), Honor Murison * (Unattached)

*Denotes Blue

Men’s Blues 40 Major Stanley’s XV 40

In the end there couldn’t have been a more fitting finish as honours ended even in the 100th anniversary of the first game between the Dark Blues and the Major Stanley’s XV. Back in 1919, a hat-trick of tries from Oxford old boy Stephen Steyn had guided the invitation team to a 12-8 win at Iffley Road. A century on it was two tries from Gloucester centre Jack Reeves that helped edge the visitors ahead before a driving line-out try at the death from hooker Josh Navarajasegaran the chance to burrow over for a try that enabled Louis Jackson to level the scores with the conversion. The good Major, or ‘Uncle’ as he was affectionately known, would have loved it . . . as well as the fact that the game he started in 1919 is still going strong. Next stop Twickenham and the ‘Battle of the Blues’ for Ed David and his men. Former Oxford Director of Rugby Steve Hill helped to assemble and coach the Stanley’s XV and they were a highly competent and competitive outfit. Coventry outside half Dan Lewis made a series of brilliant breaks and Reeves showed a clean pair of heels to everyone once he was put in space. Oxford had to live without the ball for most of the opening quarter and quickly found themselves 12 points in arrears. Lock Hugo McPherson rounded off a Lewis break to notch the opening try and then Reeves sped clear for a second that Lewis improved. There was no panic in the home ranks and a moment of individual brilliance from Tom Stileman got the Dark Blues on the scoreboard after quarter-of-an-hour. The left wing took the ball on the 22, stopped and checked his opposite number, sped away and then kicked a head inch-perfectly before winning the race for the touchdown. All of a sudden the ball was coming back more frequently on the student’s side and scrum half Jack Dalton was next to score from close range after good approach work by his pack. Tom Humberstone added the extras and the scores were level after 25 minutes. Those two tries gave Oxford the confidence to press ahead and two more tries came before the break as the back row duo of Sam Ridgeway and Ryan Jones went over. Humberstone converted them both to make it 26-12 at half-time. Having led by 12 points at one stage, Stanley’s found themselves starting the second half trailing by 14 and in need of a response. They got it immediately as lock Fred Myatt latched onto a chip ahead and scored at the posts. Lewis converted to cut the gap to seven points, but a second score from Ridgeway, in perfect support of an incredible 30 metre charge from loose had prop Euan Friend, restored the home advantage. Humberstone converted, but Stanley’s simply wouldn’t go away. Instead of falling apart, they simply got stronger and three tries without reply carried them back into the lead. Joe Gray, Reeves again and finally giant replacement No 8 Finn Creighton all crossed for tries that were all converted by Lewis to give the guest team a 40-33 lead with six minutes left to play. It was a real test of the resolve of Ed David’s side and they gave it one last shot before finally conjuring up the draw. A great run by Nick Greenhalgh took the Dark Blues deep into the Stanley’s 22 and they won a penalty. The kick to the corner gave Navarajasegaran the chance to test his throwing skills and he hit his tail gunner at the line-out perfectly. The maul was set-up, the hooker ran into position at the back and was rewarded with the try that allowed Jackson to level matters with the conversion.

Scorers: Oxford: Tries: S Ridgeway 2, W Stileman, J Dalton, R Jones, J Navarajasegaran; Cons: T Humberstone 4, L Jackson. Stanley’s XV: Tries: J Reeves 2, H McPherson, F Myatt, J Gray, F Creighton; Cons: D Lewis 5

Men’s Blues: Ed David * (St Hilda’s, captain); Rob Quinlan (Jesus), Louis Jackson * (Oriel), Nick Greenhalgh (Keble), Tom Stileman * (Christ Church); Tom Humberstone * (Jesus), Jack Dalton (Keble); Euan Friend (University), Josh Navarajasegaran (Merton), Ben Parker * (Brasenose), Calum Haggett (Magdalen), George Warr * (New), Sam Ridgway (St Antony’s), Bertie Watson (St Edmund Hall), Ryan Jones * (St Edmund Hall)

Reps: Barnaby Vaughan (Corpus Christi), Conor Hennessy * (St Catherine’s), Abhijeet Oswal (St Edmund Hall), Piers Von Dadelszen (St Edmund Hall), Tristan Louveaux (Regent’s Park), George Messum * (Kellogg), George Tresidder * (Harris Manchester), David Wilkinson (St Edmund Hall), Seb Haddock (St Edmund Hall), Henry Hackett (Christ Church), Pete Moore (Kellogg)

Major Stanley’s XV: Tim Catling * (Old Whitgiftians); Louis Beer (Coventry), Jack Reeves (Gloucester), Sam Moorby * (RAF), Will Browne * (Richmond); Dan Lewis (Coventry), Dylan Munro (Harlequins);  Lewis Anderson * (Littlemore), Ethan Hunt (Gloucester), Ed Prowse (Coventry), Hugo McPherson * (Haywards Heath), Fred Myatt (Oxford Harlequins), Joe Gray (Gloucester), Luke Sherriff * (Harlequins), Chris Davies * (Richmond)
Reps: Kieran Ball * (Chingford), Greg Drew (Rams), Fred Betteridde (Coventry), Harry Jackson (Henley), Finn Creighton (Coventry), Rob Povey (Coventry), Reece Dunn (Gloucester), Sam Gratton (Barnes)

*Denotes Blue

Reports by Rob Cole

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