Last minute drop goal seals a 27-26 win for Oxford.

league oxford brookes Rugby Rugby League

Whittaker mobbed by adoring team mates.


Facing the prospect of three defeats on the bounce and a first ever defeat to Oxford Brookes, the Blues once again showed that magic still exists in the world.

Decimated by injuries debuts were handed out to wingers, Dan Sellars and Charlie Mondelli, and both were able to hold their own in a very physical encounter. The game started brightly for Oxford with a Dan James try in the opening five minutes and some very physical tackles on a once again improving Brookes side.

However, it was going to be no walkover for the Blues as Brookes were able to hit back with four unanswered tries from Rauri Lynch, Will Miller, Matt Poole and Ludo Ephson. Whilst Brookes had earned one of these through slick hands, Oxford went in at half time 4-20 down knowing they had gifted Brookes the lead.

Whilst not being a dejected side, it was up to Captain Hugo Fearon to try to inspire his team to make a comeback. Pointing out that the Blues had never lost to Brookes, his men knew they had to step up and turn the game around. Former Blues, Alex Hamilton and Marcus Neil, gave further advice to the team, with Neil in hindsight taking the guise of Tiresias as he was able to predict the glorious comeback that was about to happen.

Oxford were able to rediscover their physicality and strong runs from Tom Hiron and Billy Saundry were able to put Oxford firmly into Brookes’ half. Smooth ball skills by Jack Baker allowed Charlie Mondelli to touch down in the corner for his first try. Being tripped in the process of scoring meant there was to be a further penalty for Oxford, with Jake Whittaker slotting it over for two more points.

The comeback seemed to have been aborted after Brookes were once again able to score after a breakaway, leaving the score at 10-26. With only 20 minutes to play Oxford were able to create better drama than the Moser Theatre.

Ben Reavley was able to storm through two defenders to touch down, soon after followed by Hugo Fearon bundling over from a ruck. Brookes made a breakaway down the length of the field, but Ali Shipman was able to recover and hold them up over the line. Shipman compounded more misery upon Brookes by dispatching away their winger with a handoff and touching down under the posts.

With a minute to go the scores were tied at 26-26 and Oxford were at half way. Tom Cole attempted to charge the ball up, and whilst being obliterated by a gargantuan, he was able to split the Brookes’ Prop’s head open in the process. Panicking voices called for the drop goal, but a run by Tom Hiron allowed Oxford a few valuable metres.

An eternity seemed to pass as James Smith passed to Jake Whittaker who had fallen back in the pocket. Jake had walked onto the field as a boy, but with one swift swing of his right boot, he left the field as a god. The score ended at 27-26 and tears were visible coming from some of the Brookes Bulls.

In the post-match interview, Hugo Fearon claimed that it was the superior fitness of the Blues that helped give them the victory. Whilst this is true, the sheer grit and resolve of Oxford was another factor for the Blues remaining as the best team in the city.

For more images of the game please look at Angela Davison’s Flickr account.