Army 30 — 19 Oxford University
Hard. Much harder than the score of 30 pts – 19 suggests. Three tries apiece and Gunners’ full back Owain Davies kicked 15 pts to make the difference.
Oxford arrived at Aldershot with twelve Blues from the Varsity match – clearly here to win. Army Coach Andy Sanger, with one eye firmly on ‘building’ for The Inter Services and the autumn International Defence Rugby Cup (IDRC) produced a team of players that merited wearing a Red’s shirt at this stage of the season. Match on.
Against two Davies penalties the Varsity scored two good tries in the first quarter. Their set piece work was structured and well judged. The open ball was secured for lengthy periods and when not in possession the Blues quickly closed with the gain-line to harry the Army.
The Reds showed only glimpses of what might be possible in attack and seemed to lack confidence in driving the extra metre in the 10—12 channel. Certainly there was little damage done as Oxford forced the Army carriers simultaneously to grapple with ball and tackler. When it all went a bit higgledy-piggledy (or unstructured for the purist) a spark of individual excellence ignited the match when Joe Bulumakau (Scots) screamed 50m down his touchline. Davies converted.
That did little to alter the price of coffee at the SODEXO snacks wagon and Oxford consolidated their advantage with a third try after excellent retention. In truth the Army had become frustrated and was unable to compensate for a player watching from the bin.
Army 13 pts — Oxford University 19 at the interval
The Army (I am guessing) must have endured a seismic experience at half time in the changing room. Back on the pitch they created the turning point when the scrum grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.
Warren Ross-Allen (AAC), Pete Austin (RA) and—wait for it—43 year old Chris Budgen (R Welsh) squeezed the living daylight out of the Oxford front row for the next 40 minutes and the rest followed.
Rising on the front foot, the Army now had the conviction to launch from their own half. The return of Morgan Evans’ (R Welsh) long service hit Jack Prasad to perfection whence slick hands enabled Joe Bulumakau (Scots), again, to run fully 50m, opposed, to the line. Not to be outdone Peceli Nacamavuto put in a trademark burst and bustle to cross. Owain Davies kicked both conversions to seal the victory.
Lt Gen John Lorimer, President Army Rugby Union, presented the Mike Campbell-Lamerton Trophy to the skipper on the night, lock Will Jones (R Welsh).