Clean sweep for Dark Blues stateside

26 Sep 2017

Conor Kearns’ Oxford University side made a clean-sweep of their three games on their USA tour and will head home full of confidence as they attempt to win back the Varsity Match title at Twickenham on Thursday, 7 December.

Having beaten Premier League outfit Mystic River 31-20 in their opening game, and then lowered the colours of the Collegiate All American XV in Philadelphia in their second match, they accounted for another top-flight club side, containing five American Eagles, by beating Old Blue 32-19 at Colombia University.

New back row recruit Andy Saull got the ball rolling with a spectacular early score as he pounced on a loose kick by the home side, chipped over the full back, re-gather the ball and bagged the first of four tries for the visitors. Kearns added the extras and then landed a penalty for a 10 point lead.

The home response came in the shape of a driving line-out try, but Kearns then struck again with a 45 metre drop goal after a loose drop out at the home 22. It soon got even better for the Dark Blues when they launched a daring, long-range attack out of their 22.

Tom Stileman burst up the blindside after receiving from scrum half Tom Kershaw and he found the supporting back row man James Beaufils on his inside to take the pass and race to the posts. Kearns once again added the conversion.

They scored again before the break, but only after Old Blue had replied with an interception try of their own by former Cardiff Blues and USA No 8 Cam Dolan. More good handling by the visitors saw them make the most of a midfield turn-over by Saull that allowed full back Sam Edgerly to given Tom Hammond the chance to show off his pace and power to race in at the corner to make  it 25-12 at the break.

Another close range try 10 minutes into the second half saw Old Blue cut the gap to six points. Dark Blues coach James Wade rang the changes off his bench and fresh legs did the trick as the visiting pack worked a perfect catch and drive at a line-put some 15 metres out into a try for back row man Sam Miller.

Now Kearns and co have to get ready for domestic action as they continue the countdown to the Varsity Match when they host Gloucester United at Iffley Road on Wednesday, 4 October.

Early Bird Tickets for the 31st Women’s Varsity Match and 136th Men’s Varsity Match at Twickenham on Thursday, 7 December, are available from £20 adults and £10 students and juniors. Click here to buy online or see you student vendor.

Scorers: Tries: Andy Saull, James Beaufils, Tom Hammond, Sam Miller; Cons: Conor Kearns 3; Pen: Conor Kearns; DG: Conor Kearns

Oxford University: Sam Edgerley; Tom Hammond, Thom Foster, Sebastian Haddock, Tom Stileman; Conor Kearns (captain), Tom Kershaw; Kieran Ball, John Aaron Henry, Noah Miller, Ollie Adams, Hugo McPherson, James Beaufils, William Thornton, Andy Saull
Reps: Ed Elvin for Henry; Ben Parker for Ball; Michael Gorry for Noah Miller; George Warr for  Adams; Sam Miller for Thornton; Robbie Fraser for Elvin; Rob Quinlan for Haddock; Charlie Pozniak for McPherson; Thom Foster for Kearns