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Match report – Greyhounds vs Barbarian Suisse

Coming into this week, the Greyhounds were looking to build on their unbeaten streak of fixtures this term, and build they did, with a hard-fought win over a very strong touring Swiss Barbarians side. Although not knowing exactly what to expect, there was no doubt that this would be opposition that played rugby slightly more occasionally than that of last week's storming victory at Iffley road. A second home game in a row, and for some players a last home game of their Oxford rugby career, the dogs came ready for war with the world’s most famously neutral nation. Surprisingly enough, the Swiss actually seem to love a scrap, and so exceedingly regularly hands seemed to find collars and shoulders seemed to find bodies regardless of the whereabouts of the ball, yet despite all this, some remarkably high-quality rugby was played throughout the whole 80.

Oxford came out the gate sharp and physical, stunning a touring side on average about 5 years older and 10 kilos heavier than the young dogs side. The hounds immediately put their aggressive, French speaking foes under the cosh with hard hits and big carries, and were rewarded in the 11th minute with a try courtesy of some brilliant footwork from Noah Miller, and just 7 minutes later another from captain George Morgan’s quick tap off of a free kick. Both tries were expertly converted by Oxford’s iciest veined resident, Ben Scher, to put the dogs up 14-0. The Swiss didn’t lose any fight though, and began to find their feet, establishing scrum dominance through a powerful pack that included a 300lb South African at loosehead prop. The Barbarians quickly came back and scored a try of their own, before making their way right back to the hounds’ line again, where Victor Angelov saw yellow at the half hour mark as a consequence of repeated ill discipline across the whole team. The baa-baas took the scrum option for the penalty and scored directly after a huge shove, levelling the scores at 14 apiece with 7 minutes left in the half. With the first 40 nearly up, the ref had finally had enough of the constant action off the ball, and one Swiss player got sent to the bin for 10 minutes making it a 14-a-side affair. In the final play of the half, the Greyhounds’ back line took quick advantage of the extra space afforded by a 14 man opposition, and some serious pace led Wolfe Morn to run it in from 40m out to send the dogs back to the sheds 19-14 up.

After a physical 15 minutes to start the second half, Joel Anjorin cut a brilliant line from 10 out, steamrolling through the defence to open up the scoring of the second half. Ben Scher slotted the extras to give Oxford a strong 26-14 lead. Not to be outdone, the Swiss respond speedily with a quick tap try to dot down against a disorganised defence. After some rousing words behind the sticks, the dogs would put their foot down on the match, not allowing another Swiss point for the final quarter of the match. Just a few minutes later, yet more unreal running (galloping?) from Wolfe would put the Greyhounds 31-21 up. However this Barbarians team hadn’t come all the way to Iffley just to give up though, and threw everything they had at a bruised and tired defensive line for the last 15, but found no way through, with the hounds showing some true dog mentality to finish out the match.

Final score: Oxford university Greyhounds 31 – 21 Barbarian Suisse.

Highlight of the day: with 9 minutes left on the clock, Luke ‘Kebab’ Newland did his level best to send one Swiss player all the way back to Switzerland with a monstrous 15 metre tackle that managed to leave even the loudest of the Barbarians' supporters speechless, and truly putting the nail in the coffin for the touring side.

After a well earned post match meal, gifts were imparted both ways, with the Swiss trying to get hounds captain George Morgan to kiss their own skipper, but George opted instead to give the Baa-Baas coach a quick peck on the cheek after being presented with some fine artwork. A tense England-Wales match was enjoyed (in part, depending on their point of view) by all in the Cape of Good Hope afterwards, and a jolly night was had across the board.

With the Dogs’ Varsity match coming up in just two weeks time, this was a huge performance from the Greyhounds that they will look to build off of before travelling to Grange Road for a huge clash with the Tabs’ LX side.

By Tom Toze

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