It was perfect rugby weather as the UKAF U23s ran out against Oxbridge Blues at Twickenham Stadium for their annual fixture on Army v Navy day.
Both teams started strong in defence but errors in attack from both sides gifted possession back and forth. 8 mins in UKAF got a penalty in kicking range but the kick just fell short keeping the score to 0 - 0. On the 20 min mark Oxbridge looked like they would put the first points on the board with some good handling skills ending in a break down the wing, only to be stopped in their tracks by a supreme individual effort from the UKAF full Back.
Both sides continued to apply pressure to each other causing more forced errors. Finally a penalty against Oxbridge gave UKAF the opportunity to kick and put the first points on the board in 27th minute - UKAF 3 – 0 Oxbridge.
The game continued to swing back and forth until the 34th minute when Oxbridge put on a well worked backs move to go in for the first try; the conversion attempt was good, making the score UKAF 3 – 7 Oxbridge. The next 7 minutes saw some sustained pressure from UKAF until the half time whistle.
Half time score UKAF U23s 3 – 7 Oxbridge U23s.
The second half kicked off and it looked to be Oxbridge’s day with some good work from the forwards ending in their second try and conversion - UKAF 3 – Oxbridge 14. Oxbridge then started bringing on replacements to keep their momentum. UKAF followed suit;. this was the key turning point in the game with the fresh UKAF players lifting the intensity. Oxbridge had some sustained pressure but aggressive defence from UKAF team forced Oxbridge to make some silly mistakes. In the 56th minute more changes for both teams happened, but as Oxbridge’s discipline seemed to drop UKAFs forwards seemed to start clicking.
Oxbridge struggled to contain UKAF in the scrum forcing a poor kick from their scrum half which didn’t find touch but was gathered up by UKAF and put them straight on the attack. The forwards laid a good platform which allowed the backs to start working, putting UKAF in for their first try of the game in the 62nd minute; the conversion was also good - UKAF 10 – 14 Oxbridge.
UKAF started to dominate the game at this point with their fitness kicking in, allowing them to keep applying the pressure in the Oxbridge half. In the 66th minute a good line out from UKAF led to a rolling maul and they drove over the try line but the try is disallowed for a penalty infringement in the maul.
Oxbridge try to get back into the game but UKAF pressure caused another poor kick to be put in which was easily gathered by UKAF. The UKAF forwards began to get on a roll and easily powered out of their own half. The team got on a roll forward and start linking together and started to look more dangerous. Finally the Oxbridge defence cracked again and UKAF went in under the posts on the 71st minute. The conversion under the post was no problem pushing the score to UKAF 17 – 14 Oxbridge. Despite their best efforts Oxbridge did not have enough left in the tank to get over the UKAF line.
A strong performance in a highly competitive game saw UKAF U23s winning for the second year running with a final score UKAF U23s 17 – 14 Oxbridge Blues.
Man of the match went to UKAF No 6 Kieron Forbes.
All Images Credit: Army Navy Match / © Nick Flexman