Oxford 24 – 22 Brookes
Tries: Pemberton x2, Sellars, Rathbone
Cons: Williets x4
With Bath 2s catching a severe case of not wanting it, for the second week in a row it was just the Blues taking to the field of play, in the ‘Brookes Sport Game of the Week’. On the kind of cold Wednesday afternoon up the hill at the polytechnic where seasons are made and broken, the blues pulled a far from vintage performance out the bag but thankfully brought back the points as the dreams of an unbeaten Michaelmas continue.
From the start it was a performance riddled with errors, with Maciek leaving the kit bag on the street outside Jamie’s Italian and Roper deciding to leave without his characteristically late vice-captain. When the game got going we continued in much the same manner gifting Brookes repeat set after repeat set (and as we well know a repeat set is famously a repeat set). Thankfully for us we love defending and the early damage was limited. After the early exchanges we found ourselves 6-4 to the good thanks to a strong Pemberton carry trundling over the line.
With the huge crowd that only ‘Brookes Sport Game of the Week’ can muster getting involved, the game ramped up a level. Shouts of ‘C’mon lads, you’ve got to scoot more’ were duly heeded as they took on the novel and entertaining tactic of a series of scoot sets, which involved picking up the ball and running straight at our middle unit. Unfortunately for them Pemberton, Claxton and Simpson wanted it (it should also be noted that Edward William Alexandros Harris definitely wanted it as much as ever but sadly had to be removed from the action after 10 mins).
We continued the half in much the same manner with our limited time with ball in hand further shortened by our intent to force the play. Balls weren’t sticking, marks were being missed, the shape wasn’t flowing but at least it was more exciting than another Brookes scoot set. Sellars nabbed a try on 5th, somehow getting over the line with men hanging off him from 10m out. Conor knocked over the extras from out wide, despite the referee’s best efforts to deny him his 100% record, leaving the score 16-12 to the home side at half time.
The second period began worryingly with the Brookes 9 evading a few tackles to extend the lead to 10 points. At this point we finally started to build into the game. Debutant full-back Garbutt gave us a solid foundation on which to mount attacks, we started to complete our sets and the intensity in defence was lifted. A shortside attacking play finished by Rathbone cut the gap to four points. The Blues were pushing at this point, both Sellars and McCance suffered the wicked fate of loosing the ball in the act of scoring. Crucially however our defence was back up to speed and we managed to keep them out despite falling foul of a few niche laws imported by the referee from the Southern hemisphere.
As the clock struck Quez, we found ourselves with 5 minutes to go, still four points down and mounting an attack from deep in our own half. At this point a composure that had been missing for the rest of the game became evident; we rumbled our way up the pitch and on 5th Pemberton launched himself through a gap between the first two defenders to bury his way under the posts and cap off an impeccable middle performance. Two completed sets later we were home and dry and could safely enjoy a well earned warm tin of Foster’s lager beer.
After a game that took a good 70 minutes to get going, the eventual spectacle lived up to the big billing. Despite a far from pleasing performance, we can be happy that we took maximum points at a venue where we have drawn twice in the last few years, as well as some very impressive debutant performances. Join us at the same time next week as we take on the Tabs in Uni Parks. Will they want it? Maybe