Right from the outside both Oxford University and the Royal Navy had obviously decided to defy the conditions and seek to play with ball in hand. And despite a high number of unforced errors as a result of the conditions they produced a most enjoyable game of rugby that was in the balance throughout the night. Though Oxford University were probably deserving of their 21-14 win, Navy DoR Andy Kellett will have been pleased with much of what he saw.
Oxford University opened the scoring through a well taken try by outside centre Henry Lamont, converted by Charlie Marr. It was fair reward for the continuity they had maintained as the probed the Navy’s defences. However it was to be short lived.
The Navy’s second try followed shortly after and was effective if not necessarily graceful. Pressured defence forced the error from the Oxford handling and hooker Chris McCardle seized on the loose ball and fly hacked through. Though he was out paced in the chase to the goal line he exerted enough pressure to ensure that Sam Davies could get up in support and his kick ahead and chase gave him a try on his Senior XV debut.
As ever Dave Pascoe was reliable and accurate with his kicks and the Navy reached half time with a 14-7 lead.
Oxford University started the second half the more brightly of the two teams and they had soon levelled the scores through a try by number 8 Fraser Heathcote which was also converted.
The game was now finely balanced when ill discipline cost the home side severely.
With the Navy down to fourteen men there were a few more gaps in the defence and Oxford University’s live wire scrum half, Sam Egerton, was able to scoot over for their third try, also converted to make the score 21-14.
Though a loss the Navy will have benefitted from this first outing and it was good to see some of the younger players making their mark.
No doubt the Navy will have learnt much from this outing and will be looking to take a step forward next Wednesday when they are away to Esher.