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Oxford University Match
Wednesday 22nd February 2017 at Iffley Road, Oxford

Result: Oxford University RFC 21 Penguin International XV 24

The annual encounter between Oxford University and the Penguins at Iffley Road on Wednesday night, proved to be another compelling contest between two sides committed to keeping the ball alive and playing an expansive game. Conditions were good with a firm pitch and the afternoon’s gale having passed over and the rain staying away, so the large vocal crowd who had come to see the universities last game of the 2016/17 season were rewarded with a highly entertaining match, which saw the victors eventually victorious for the first time since 2014 by 24 points to 21.

The evening saw the return to Iffley Road of a number of familiar faces, former OURFC Director of Rugby Steve Hill was in charge of the strong Penguins squad, which included Blues fly-half Ross Swanson (2008/09), whilst the man with the whistle was Gloucester record appearance holder Nick Wood, who gained a 'Red' when he appeared for Oxford in three consecutive U21 Varsity Matches 2001/02/03.

It was the Penguins who came out of the blocks the fastest and were soon rewarded for their attacking policy, when the aforementioned Swanson ghosted through a narrow gap to slide over out wide after just 6 minutes, full-back Rhodri Adamson was off target with the conversion. The Penguins continued to press for a second score for the remainder of the first quarter, before the home side found their feet. The second quarter was a reverse of the first, as Oxford dominated territory and possession, the scrum being a particular area of strength which eventually lead to Wood yellow carding Jake Byrne the Penguins loose-head prop. The Blues took the lead on 21 minutes, when 2016 Captain and leader on the night, Fergus Taylor forced his way over from short range, No 8 Will Wilson, who enjoyed a good evening off the tee added the conversion from out wide. With half-time approaching with just two points between the teams, Oxford extended their lead when Wilson was the beneficiary of a push-over try from five metres out, he duly added the extras. On the stroke of half-time, the Blues gifted the Penguins seven points, when a loose pass in midfield was pounced upon by left wing James Murdoch to race in unopposed, Adamson this time converting from under the posts to make the score at the interval 14 points to 12 in the home sides favour.

The second half was almost a mirror image of the first with the home side dominating the third quarter, then the Penguins hitting back in the fourth, before a frantic finish with the final result going down to the wire. Blues flanker James Beaufils who put in another strong performance in both attack and defence, caught the Penguins defence napping when he took a quick tap penalty and raced in untouched to dot down under the posts, Wilson was once again on target to extend Oxford's lead to nine points. Then with just ten minutes left, when it looked as though the Blues had done enough to close out a victory, the Penguins had other ideas and suddenly burst into a flurry of attacking action to score two late tries. First replacement wing Ali Taylor was put into space by his inside backs and finished off in fine style in the corner, replacement fly-half Howard Graham missed the difficult conversion. Soon after, flanker Nathan Thomas burst through a dog-legged Oxford defence to stride in under the posts, this time Graham was on target to take the Penguins out to a three point lead. The final minutes of the game, saw Oxford hammer away at the Penguins line, spurning simple penalty opportunities to draw the game, and on several occasions it appeared they had breached the defensive line, only for a Penguin defender to appear at the last minute to repel the attack. With the stadium clock showing 84 minutes, Wood eventually blew the final whistle with the Penguins victorious by just three points to reclaim the Alan Wright Cup for the first time since 2014.

Penguins Starting XV:
1 Jake Byrne Coventry
2 Alex Post Richmond
3 Johnny Borja # Pocklington
4 Myles Tucker Darlington Mowlem Park
5 Dave Nolan Doncaster Knights
6 Ed Falkingham Doncaster Knights
7 Sam Harry Coventry
8 Matt Young Nottingham University
9 Sam Edgerley Doncaster Knights
10 Ross Swanson Kew Occasionals
11 James Murdoch Nottingham University
12 James Swan Sydney University
13 Ollie Clough Imperial Medics
14 Max Trimble Coventry
15 Rhodri Adamson Coventry
16 Igino Corradi Piacenza RFC
17 Ali Lyon Richmond
18 Will Goodriche-Clarke Oxford Brookes University
19 Harry Innis Richmond
20 Nathan Thomas Rosslyn Park
21 Oscar Larrsen Pingvins, Sweden
22 Alex Gliksten Saracens
23 Tom Orton Bedford Athletic
24 Howard Graham Harlequins
25 Sam Moorby Imperial College
26 Nick Carpenter Bristol
27 Rob Knox Coventry
28 Ali Taylor Richmond

# Denotes International
* Denotes Blue

Jack Speak
Community Group
Jack Speak
Community Group