The Army Men’s Development team rounded off a positive week of training with a second win in the space of four days against an Oxford University Greyhounds outfit who showed plenty of heart and spirit despite the 45-0 final scoreline.
A late change of venue and surface, to the artificial surface at Oxford Harlequins RFC, did not faze the red shirts. In fact, the faster ground suited the Army’s style of play, which yielded returns via the tight and loose alike.
The power differential was clear almost from the off, the Army scoring the first of six tries in the opening few minutes, Cpl Boladau (R Sigs) barrelling over with an irrepressible charge from close range.
A forward drive brought the second try, hooker Sgt Brown (RLC) breaking off the back of a maul to power through a pair of attempted tackles.
Oxford were already facing a mountainous challenge, but their effort and commitment was demonstrated by the way multiple defenders scrambled back to deny Capt Reeve (AHQ) in the right corner.
But it was not long before they were on the receiving end of try number three, as simple hands from Spr Johnson (RE), Capt Bromley-Martin (IG) and OCdt Kelly (RMAS) put LCpl Graham (RE) in on the far left.
With a comfortable lead the red shirts began to turn on the style, creating scores through some superb handling and offloading which made the most of the perfect handling conditions.
First was Cpl Boladau, who took out four defenders with a charge and flick of the hand that sent LBdr Visei (RA) into the clear. But this was overshadowed by Pte Ratulaveta (RLC), who came on a looping run off his wing to make an extra man in midfield before diving through a double-tackle to find Capt Cross (Yorks/RMAS) with a delightful piece of skill.
By then the red shirts were down to 14 men, Spr Johnson having seen red following a dangerous tackle. But they were still too strong for the students, no more so than with the final try of the half, created by a scrum drive and finished from close range by Cpl Boladau.
Compared to a first half which had ended 40-0, the second half seemed somewhat anticlimactic. The raft of replacements made the action more disjointed, as did uncontested scrums, it was it was to the Greyhounds’ credit that they both increased their defensive effort and asked some questions of their own.
However the visitors kept the door shut on Oxford, and scored the only points of the half through LBdr Fitzgerald (RA), who did well to come on an arcing run to out-pace the first defender and hold off the second on his way to the whitewash.
45-0 the final scoreline, and there will be plenty of food for thought for Lt Col Tim Osman and his team of coaches before they whittle down the squad for the next round of matches ahead of the Inter-Services Championship.
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Words and images © New Dogs, Old Tricks