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RUGBY UNION: Oxford denied in home opener
Oxford University 8,
Oxford University’s first home game of the season ended in a deserved defeat to a young Leicester side at Iffley Road tonight.
The students had the consolation of a late try from their man-of-the-match, scrum half Sam Egerton, but they were second best for most of the match.
Oxford lacked Leicester’s fluency, although the wet conditions didn’t help, and they will need to sharpen their ball retention if they want to make real progress.
Playing in their traditional letters, Leicester fielded largely an academy side, which included former Cokethorpe School and Chipping Norton player Henry Purdy on the wing.
Leicester started well and scored out wide on the right through flanker George Oliver after three minutes.
Oxford’s handling suffered in the wet conditions, but a good break from captain James Harris was followed by a successful penalty from centre Cassian Bramham-Law on 17 minutes to make it 5-3.
It could have been better as the Dark Blues twice went for pushover tries with replacement Mike Rickner at No 8, but a collapse and a knock-on foiled the hosts.
Rickner’s eventful introduction continued with a sin-binning on 32 minutes.
Oxford struggled for fluency, with their passing much less slick than Leicester, but they did show some tigerish defence in the closing stages of the half.
The visitors looked set to score from close range and won a penalty near the line, but the Dark Blues won a crucial turnover to go in 5-3 down.
Leicester continued to press after the break and lock Harry Wells forced his way over on 47 minutes.
Oxford found little of an attacking platform in the third quarter, while neither side were helped by the number of penalties being awarded.
Just when the Dark Blues looked like putting some phases together, they coughed up an interception try to centre Javiad Pohe, who raced clear on 62 minutes, fly half Oliver Bryant converting.
In truth, however, the more fluent Leicester were worth their 17-3 lead.
Oxford full back Henry Lamont and Egerton showed plenty of energy, but their breaks lacked support.
One final chance looked to have gone begging when Rickner knocked-on as he broke of the back of a five-metre scrum.
But from what proved the last play, the alert Egerton sniped over to make the final score 17-8.
Oxford University: Lamont, Hughes (Wareham 67), Bramham-Law*, Cho, Adams-Cairns, McCulla (Shorthose 45), Egerton*, Macdonald* (Grounds 48), Wisson (Gardner 53), Baker (Direen 53), Little (Law* 48), Rowlands (Little 67), Jones (Rickner 15), Harris (capt), Waddingham. * Denotes Blue.
Referee: F Kilby (RFU).