Men's Blues vs Leicester Tigers Match Report (08/11). Final score: Men's Blues 6 - 33 Leicester Tigers.
Wednesday night saw the welcoming of a young Leicester Tigers side to Iffley Road. This was the second Premiership team that the Blues had encountered this season, and with many of the Tigers boys having Premiership and England U20s experience, the Blues were firm underdogs.
The game began as a cagey, territorial affair with the challenge of the high ball on a wet night being laid down. Fortunately, the rather primal methods of territorial marking often witnessed by tigers was not employed, with the visitors instead opting for the box kick and spiral bomb. A well-placed kick from Oxford flyhalf Archie King allowed Luke Wyllie the opportunity to get the Blues a penalty right in front of the sticks. With majesty, King struck the ball over, giving the Blues an early lead. This penalty was quickly followed by another from King, making the score 6-0 to the home side after 20 minutes.
Whilst the saying goes that a leopard cannot change it spots, Wednesday night appeared to demonstrate that a tiger very much can change its stripes as the visitors suddenly rocketed into action. The next 15 minutes witnessed three fast successive tries from the Tigers, the second of these being particularly noteworthy as the opposition 13 used some impressive footwork to carve open the Oxford centres and eventually offloaded to his scrum half who dotted down under the posts. The two teams headed back into the changing rooms after the first 40 minutes, with Oxford down, but certainly not out (HT Oxford 6 – 21 Tigers).
The second half did not begin the way that the Dark Blue would have hoped as Leicester picked up an early penalty in Oxford’s half. This then led to an overthrown lineout, which the back man from Tigers pounced upon, bringing the score up to 6-28. The game felt as though it was slipping away from the Blues, but a defiant Second half performance kept the score line consistent for the next 20 minutes. Particular mention must go to the best iconic Aussie duo since Steve Smith and sandpaper, Hamilton and King who smoothed out any roughness in the home sides attack and kicked Oxford into some fantastic attacking positions. The visitors defence remained impervious throughout though, with the Tigers (uncharacteristically) hunting the Oxford attack in packs and repelling any efforts the Dark Blues threw at them. Both Hamilton and Scoble came to within inches but could not cross the whitewash. Leicester’s impressive collective effort in defence allowed them to remain a Survivor on their own line and countered the idea that there is an ‘I’ of the Tiger. A late try from Leicester brought the game to a close with a final score of Oxford 6 – Tigers 33.
The boys in dark blue should be immensely proud of their efforts though. This was certainly the best game they had played all season and the improvements they made in just two weeks from their first game were huge. The defensive enthusiasm and kicking tactics shown by Oxford bode very well for their fixture in two weeks against the Penguins. Tickets for this are linked below.
Congratulations must also go to the Tigers for an excellent victory; they very much earnt their stripes.
By Sam Reynolds