Rugby League: Spencer checks Oxford march

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The Independent Online
Oxford University . . . .22

Cambridge University. . .22

RUGBY LEAGUE would once have been as welcome on the Old Deer Park as poachers with high-powered crossbows. But where John Dawes used to hold court it was yesterday more a case of open doors.

This University Match is still small beer alongside the hampers and hype of its Twickenham equivalent, but over its 14-game history, it has produced some surprisingly fluent rugby.

Yesterday's match at London Welsh was too full of technical errors to count among the best, but it did provide the first draw and the most exciting finish since the series began.

Oxford, fully recovered from last year's 50-18 mauling, were on their way to what would have been a well-earned victory when they led 22-12 with eight minutes to go.

Andy Spencer rescued Cambridge by darting over for one try and then converting substitute Julian Thomas's effort with three minutes remaining.

He then went close with a drop goal attempt, but that would have been harsh on Oxford, who had led for most of the first half through tries from Piers Harrison and Gary Baker.

Cambridge came back through David Downham and Tim Walton, but Oxford tries from Jock Walker and John Brennand led them to the threshold of victory.

OXFORD UNIVERSITY: N Viney (Pembroke); J Brennand (Merchant Taylors' Crosby), R Wintle (University), M Crabbe (Pembroke), M Sandys (Balliol); J Davies (Mansfield, capt), J Walker (Worcester); P Keatinge (Christ Church), B Gent (Merton), A Callen (Lincoln), G Baker (New), P Harrison (New), B Rogers (Christ Church).

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY: T Walton (Downing); W Thomas (St John's), G Bird (Hughes Hall), R Latham (Girton), A Read (Hughes Hall); A Spencer (St John's), P Woodward (Hughes Hall); E Harrison (St John's), D Downham (Emmanuel), L Garner (Wolfson), A Southern (Girton), D Summers (Caius), I O' Dwyer (Corpus Christi, capt).

Referee: D Birch (London).