With a late cancellation by CURLFC on the morning of the Maroons fixture, OURLFC had just the one match scheduled this week. A tough away trip against Coventry University.
The match started in the exact opposite fashion to how Blues Captain, James Clark would have wanted. A very slow start by the Oxford lads wasn’t helped by an early injury to prop Bob Bainbridge who left the field on 3 minutes. All credit to Coventry they came out firing and with Oxford struggling to maintain possession in attack the boys found themselves 24-0 down before they had time to react. With 15 minutes gone a rejuvenated Oxford team finally found their feet. Finally managing to complete their sets, some nice shape in attack led to James Clark slicing through a gap in the centre of the park to touch down under the posts. The Blues then fired up another gear and Phil Tucciarone scored in the corner off a beautiful shift from right to left. More good hands led to hat trick hero from last week Mccleary cruising over the line in the corner, only to have the ball dislodged from his hands whilst trying to sneak closer to the posts. Great forward lines and support play enabled James ‘Shliddy’ Smith to break the line from dummy half and find Yoni Dennis steaming through. Unfortunately his lack of time spent with Matty Queralt of late meant he couldn’t quite reach the line. Luckily Conor McCleary was on hand to make up for his earlier error and cross in the corner making the score 24-16. A further try was scored before half time with Mark Giza busting through the postbox to make the score 24-0 at the break.
The second half began with a tense exchange of sets with both teams attacking and defending well. Eventually Coventry broke the stalemate only for Oxford to immediately reply with a bold attacking set from inside their own 5 leading to Matt Brady and Tolly Rose running 80 metres. Conor McCleary was again on hand to touch down after the ball was quickly whipped across the pitch. With 14mins to go James Clrk slotted the conversion from the touchline to make it 30-26. Further tries from each side meant the scores were 38-32 with minutes to go. The Coventry boys looked to play the ball deep into the Oxford half and with 30s to go James Clark sent a kick back deep into the Coventry end. Again Rose and Brady were on hand to steam up the field and somehow recover the ball. Despite all their efforts they were tackled on the opposition 20 and the ref called full time.
There were many positives to be taken from the performance for 65 minutes of the game, but something needs to be done to ensure the Blues do not get off to a similar start again this year. The boys will be looking forward to the return fixture later in the season.