Oxford cruise despite seeing red
December 12, 2013
Henry Lamont avoids a string of tackles to pile over for Oxford's first try
© Getty Images
Oxford cruised to a 33-15 win over Cambridge in the Varsity match at Twickenham, largely thanks to an awesome display by their pack who destroyed the Light Blues at every set piece. But their win was tarnished by the red card issued to their scrum-half Sam Egerton for gouging, the first dismissal in the fixture's history.
It was an indication of how completely Oxford dominated the 132nd Varsity match that Egerton's 50th-minute expulsion did not affect the balance of play, and only on a couple of occasions when Cambridge mounted rare attacks were Oxford's back line stretched.
The game was decided in the scrum where Cambridge were comprehensively ripped apart. At every set piece they were sent reeling backwards, so much so that even when they had the put-in they were disadvantaged. A double substitution in the front row at half-time had no impact. Rarely has a pack been so utterly routed.
After weathering an early assault Cambridge took the lead, a flowing attack ending with Nick Davis going over one-handed in the corner.
Oxford should have built a lead but their kicking in the first-half was poor. They opened their scoring when the impressive John Carter, in his fourth and final Varsity match, scored a pushover try after Cambridge were shoved contemptuously back over their line.
Although a Donald Stevens penalty extended Cambridge's lead, he almost immediately limped off after a contentious tackle - he appeared to have been played while still on the ground - and from then Cambridge's attacks grew even fewer. The Light Blues defended resolutely until Henry Lamont jinked through some feeble tackling to level the scores, and with Jonathan Hudson finally finding his range, Oxford led 13-10 at the break.
Three minutes after the restart Oxford scored again, Egerton neatly taking a return pass to ease through a large gap in a stretched defence.
But six minutes later his day ended when he grabbed at Nick Viljoen's scrumcap but only succeeded in digging his fingers into the grounded flanker's face in a ruck. Viljoen made clear his anger, referee Matt Carley referred it upstairs but by the time the TMO was ready to give a decision Carley had made up his mind and he brandished the red card. It was a correct decision and he deserves credit for not hesitating in making it.
The feeling was that would allow Cambridge a foothold back in the match but that never happened. Oxford continued to dominate in the pack and show more enterprise in the back line.
On the hour Nick Gardener went over for Oxford's fourth and final try, rounding off four minutes of relentless pressure, and although Toby May scored late on for Cambridge by then the game was well out of their reach.
The walk of shame as Sam Egerton becomes the first man sent off in a Varsity match © Getty Images
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