Having noted that Cambridge lost by 35 points to this Army outfit, the Blues travelled to Aldershot with the knowledge that this team would not roll over as easily as the RAF did two weeks previously. Sure enough, the game began at a ferocious pace as both sides carried hard but ultimately failed to put together any meaningful spells of possession because of unforced errors and a high penalty count.
From my position on the wing I had a great view of Alex Rowe, Stan McKeen and Louis Mather throwing themselves into physical confrontation while Alex Cheesman at inside centre provided the glue in the midfield. Wave after wave of Army attack was repelled by the Blues as we experimented successfully with some new combinations in the back-line. Indeed, it was the relentless tackling of the Oxford defence which brought about the first infringement within kickable range and Charlie Marr duly slotted the ball between the uprights to give the Blues a three point lead. This lead was held until the stroke of half-time when the Oxford line was breached, the opposition Number 8 evading two tackles to score under the posts.
The second half continued in the same fashion with both sides struggling to get the upper-hand in what was turning out to be quite an end-to-end affair. However, despite Oxford registering the next points through Jamie Durward’s try in the corner, the Army took control of the final quarter of the game and scored two further tries and a penalty to leave the final score at 24-8. The game ended on a sad note for Oxford replacement flanker Dugald Mcdonald who left the pitch on a stretcher with a suspected neck injury and the thoughts of the team are obviously with him.
Despite the loss, Oxford left Aldershot with their heads held high and captain John-Henry Carter was upbeat about the performance. “The Army away is always going to be a tough fixture but the boys did exceptionally well to ‘front up’ and meet the challenge head on. We have a two week break now before Crawshay’s (a Welsh invitational side) come to Iffley Road so we’ll rest up and get back to training next week with our minds focussed.”