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Whippets vs Oxford Brookes 3s 14/02/24

Valentines Day saw the Whippets make the journey down to Oxford Harlequins to face off against their unbeloved city rivals Oxford Brookes in a match that would set the tone heading into Friday night’s Battle for the City.

From the first phase it was clear the game was going to be an extremely physical contest, with Brookes eventually rolling over from a line-out inside the first ten minutes. The Whippets responded confidently, a strong effort turning over a defensive line-out on the five-meter providing a foot back into the game. A string of penalties then gave the boys an attacking platform inside Brookes’ twenty-two, forwards picking ever closer towards the line before a short hard line saw Vivek Raman crash over for a first score; captain Kimathi Muiruri adding the extras to tie things all square.

Brookes responded with sustained attacking pressure and were eventually rewarded when a loose pass bobbled favourably out wide, their winger picking up to squeeze in for a score in the corner. Neither an unfavourable bounce, nor atrocious serenades from the crowds seemed to dampen the Whippets’ spirits and a penalty from Kimathi saw the scoreboard tick over to 12-10 to round out a closely fought first half.

Following a calm interval in which the boys recomposed themselves, the game resumed to see the Whippets build consistent attacking phases. Some further sustained phase play in the Brookes’ twenty-two was then rewarded when Jack Wiggin picking from close, used his twinkle toes to somehow wriggle out of a tackle and over the line. Whilst Kimathi couldn’t add the extras, his fine kicking boot rewarded more attacking play converting a penalty to put the Whips 18-12 up.

The Whippets continued to frustrate Brookes defensively, with both Jonty Scott-Brown and Sam Beverely lining up multiple huge hits. This saw tensions flair up and a short scuffle saw both teams reduced to fourteen men for ten minutes. However, some smart kicking saw the Whippets continue to successfully exit from their half and pile the pressure back on Brookes.

With less than a minute to go Brookes managed to steal the ball in open play, stringing some passes together to find their winger outside and in open space. A chip through seemed to certainly spell heartbreak for the Whippets but an outstanding try saving cover tackle from Charlie Callaghan kept Brookes five metres out, their support going off feet at the ruck sealing both the ball and the win for the Whippets.

Overall, an outstanding defensive shift from the boys for all 80 minutes and a victory that will stand them in good stead heading into this week’s fixture against Cambridge.

By Will Powell

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