Oxford University 7—21 Army
The Army visited Oxford University in the second contest in the march to meet the Navy at Twickenham on 30th April. The prize was the Mike Campbell-Lamerton Trophy donated by Army, Scotland international and captain of the British Lions who had a historical boot in both camps.
Although the conditions were heavy at Iffley Road both teams presented an entertaining and keenly contested match which swung from one end-to-‘other. This was the best Blues side to face the Army in recent times and a true test for an Army XV gearing-up to the point when Andy Sanger starts to narrow his eyes.
Oxford were the first out of the traps, both mentally and physically. The Blues No9 de Berker hoisted the ball into no-mans-land for wing Stileman to cross. The try was converted.
The first quarter went to Oxford in a series of well thought out attacks but they failed to penetrate the last trenches. Indeed on a positive note the Army defences were well organizeded and the Blues were strongly rebuffed until Owian Davies playing at No10 chipped, caught his own kick and raced to the posts. Possibly against the run of play but we will take that for starters! 7pts all.
Quick Orders, the Army regrouped and advanced to contact in Oxford territory. Swift hands and winger Apo Sokia was over in the corner. Again Owain Davies made light of the gluey conditions to convert from way-out. Half time Oxford 7pts—Army 14 pts.
At the start of the second half, the Army were still loading their magazines when the Students produced a series of telling broadsides, at one point across fourteen phases. Passionate and resolute defence led to a Blues spillage a few metres out. The alert Connor O’Reilly, now 7 RHA, swooped and made for home, running deceptive angles to finish 80m under the posts. Again Owain Davies added the cream and with it collected the Man of the Match award.
In the final quarter both sides thought a win possible and attacked. The Reds’ plans were not helped with two players warming the bench but that simply stiffened the sinews of the gallant thirteen who held out to the whistle.
Head Coach Major Andy Sanger RE said “That was very encouraging. The University sent out 13 Blues against two Army caps. We held under fire, we reformed as the attacks petered out on rock solid defence and then scored three good tries—coming from far-out. It was really pleasing that we stuck to the ‘personal responsibility’ plan and thereby strengthened the team effort. I was unhappy with the penalty count ’23—6 against’ but the Reds showed discipline, stuck their chins out and prevailed. Valuable lessons were learned.
Images courtesy of John Walton Gentleman Photographer