Oundle continued right back where they left off before the half term break, with another victory and a dogged display.
This one was a 28-8 effort away at Radley College, who, despite not having the best record last half term, are a tough nut to crack. Just ask schoolboy giants Sedbergh, they were made to panic for a while in their Champions Trophy clash against today’s hosts a month or so ago.
Oundle were without the outstanding Sale Sharks flanker, Ben Curry, however the other half of Oundle, and indeed Sale’s (and probably England U18s’), deadly back row duo, his twin brother Tom, was available and started at number eight.
Curry was, again, the driving force behind this Oundle victory, carrying, tackling, jackling, cajoling, exuding presence, and securing a brace of tries, but it was no solo effort. His reshuffled back row partners played a key role, while the tactical kicking of the Oundle half backs was vital on an afternoon that could only be described as bleak, though the Oundle coaching staff would perhaps have enjoyed even more use of the boot.
A word too for Oundle winger Angus McRae, who landed four kicks from four including two touchline efforts, those extra points were always a signal to Radley that they could not afford to give away any kickable penalties.
The moment of the match came in the opening ten minutes of the entire game, as Radley intercepted in their own 22 and threatened to go all the way to the try line, only for Oundle to haul the breakaway down just a few metres short.
The away side then snaffled the ball and launched a counter attack of their own, going the length of the field to score a simply breathtaking try, it was electric stuff, and with McRae, of course, converting, it gave them a 7-0 lead that set them up nicely for the rest of the game.
From there though the game became a real battle, with the breakdown a key area. Curry and his fellow back row bandits were harrying ever Radley ball, but the home side were giving as good as they got, with Radley College captain and openside, Tom Oliver, a real thorn in the Oundle side. He, along with number 8 Oliver Henderson, were doing an expert job of slowing Oundle possession.
None of that could stop Curry from powering over on the twenty minute mark though, in a try reminiscent of the amateur days as the picked up from the base of a scrum on the right hand side on the Radley 22. With a bit of a wheel on, he picked up and ran the classic line to the corner, brushing off a couple of tacklers en route and, with McRae’s, conversion, doubling Oundle’s lead to 14-0.
Radley did manage to close the gap before half time though, landing a penalty through the boot of full back Charlie Davies after some sustained pressure that yielded a series of penalties, and with Oundle being left in no doubt that the referee was not about to allow any more. It meant that Radley went into the break 14-3 behind, but crucially on the scoreboard at last.
That little bit of hope only served to last six minutes into the second half though, before Curry again stamped his mark on the game, blasting through like a runaway train from the edge of the Radley 22 to go underneath the posts practically untouched. It really will be a travesty if there is not a Curry in England U18 colours at some point this season.
McRae nudged over the extras to send his men 21-3 ahead, and there was further bad news for Radley shortly after as vice-captain and fly half Alexander Bruce was taken off following a bang to the head.
It meant that Davies moved up to the pivot slot from full back, and immediately he showed his abilities in that more advanced position, producing a delightful offload for his centre, Charlie Le Grice, to bundle himself over the line from.
It reduced the gap to 21-8, and there was a murmuring amongst the spectators that perhaps a comeback was on, but in truth Oundle never looked like surrendering this game. They would probably say that they were not at their best, but it is always a sign of a very good side if they can play below their peak and still produce performances in which they always look in control of the game, and the situations within it as they arrive.
There was still time for Oundle to produce another little moment of class, and once again Curry featured highly.
Oundle had stacked their numbers left but with a decent blindside available they opted to go left were Curry and his openside backrow colleague exchanged a series of passes to outstrip the scrambling Radley defence, sending the openside over for his side’s fourth try. McRae landed the touchline conversion, naturally, to settle the final score at 28-8.
Both sides came out of this one well, Oundle will be glad for another win under their belt and they look a side that is incredibly assured and insusceptible to panic, they are surely once again going to feature at the latter stages of the NatWest Cup. Radley meanwhile once again proved their doggedness and showed that they have some real class when they can get their backline moving.
All in all a cracking afternoon in Oxfordshire, and as Oundle back the drive home, they can reflect on the fact that few other sides will fancy coming up against them.
Full Time: Radley College 8-28 Oundle
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