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Oxford University Match
Wednesday 2nd March 2016, Iffley Road, Oxford

Result: Oxford University RFC 31 Penguin International XV 14

The annual encounter between Oxford University and the Penguins at Iffley Road proved to be another compelling contest between two sides committed to keeping the ball alive and playing an expansive game. The conditions were good with a firm pitch, with the afternoon’s gale having passed over and the rain staying away. The large vocal crowd who had come to see the universities last game of the season were rewarded with a highly entertaining match, which saw the home side victorious for a second successive year by 31-14.

However, it was the visitors who started more impressively and after just six minutes the Penguins opened the scoring with a very well-constructed catch and drive from a line-out that resulted in Simon Edwards being driven over to score near the touchline. Tom O’Toole kicked an excellent conversion from out wide. The next fifteen minutes saw both sides put together sustained passages of attacking play, but both defences held firm and the Penguins held onto their 7-0 lead. On the twenty-minute mark, Oxford secured good ball from a set piece and blindside winger Stephen Hyde burst in to the line and through the Penguins defence to score under the posts, with George Collen adding the simple conversion.

Following this score, Oxford looked to press home their advantage and with plentiful possession continued to attack the Penguins line. However a combination of dropped balls and misdirected passes meant they could not find the finish necessary to take the lead. Slightly against the run of play, the Penguins scored their second try, when fly-half Matt Keville put a grubber kick through the Oxford defensive line and full-back O’Toole showed great footballing skills to nudge the ball towards the posts and won the race to touch down; he subsequently added the straightforward conversion. With half-time approaching Oxford levelled the scores when George Messum plunged over from five metres to score a well-deserved try, which Cullen converted to make the score at the interval 14-14.

With both teams making a number of changes at the break, the first few minutes of the second half lacked the quality that was witnessed in the first. It was Oxford who settled first and took the lead when flanker Will Wilson scored in the corner. On this occasion Cullen was off target with the difficult conversion. Just five minutes later, the home side extended their lead when winger Hyde added his second of the night after some good build up play by the impressive Henry Lamont. Cullen once again missed the conversion from the right-hand touchline.

The match then became a bit niggly, with the referee awarding a number of penalties for both sides for infringements at the break down. Subsequently he lost patience and the Penguins second row Rob Hall was shown a yellow card. Whilst Hall was in the sin bin, Oxford score their fifth and final try of the game from the constantly improving fly-half Basil Strang, who pounced on a loose ball and used all of his 6’ 5” frame to reach over and score a well-deserved try. This time Cullen was able to find the target with the conversion to extend the home side’s advantage. This was the last score of the game with the last five minutes being something of a disappointing end to a highly competitive and entertaining fixture.

Oxford’s George Messum and Henry Lamont were the joint recipients of the Active Education Man of the Match Award, and Captain Fergus Taylor lifted the Alan Wright Cup on behalf of Oxford for the second year running, which was presented by the Penguins Hon. Secretary, Mr Vincent Bramhall.

1 Will Briggs * Cambridge University
2 Igino Corradi Richmond
3 Richard Matthews * Barnes - Captain
4 Rob Hall * Cambridge University
5 Ben Thomas Coventry
6 Jason Billows Old Albanians
7 Alfred Meitmann Pingvins, Sweden
8 Simon Edwards Richmond
9 Callum Watson London Irish
10 Matt Keville Chingford
11 Ed Doe * Richmond
12 Chris Kinloch Ealing
13 Ryan Hough Coventry
14 Sam Randle Westcombe Park
15 Tom O’Toole * Barnes
16 Matt Price Coventry
17 Jordan Brodley Bristol University
18 Cronan Gleeson Canterbury
19 Lee Covington Westcombe Park
20 Dave O’Brien * Richmond
21 Andre Eriksson Pingvins, Sweden
22 Ollie Clough * Cambridge University
23 Fred Burden * Unattached
24 Matt Hema Canterbury
25 Lucien Maman Biarritz
26 Sam Pailor Coventry

Jack Speak
Community Group
Jack Speak
Community Group