Rugby Union: Innovative Rees puts the knife into Stanley's: Major's men booted out at Oxford

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Oxford University. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54

Stanley's XV. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

GARETH REES is the one who got away. Last week, though, the former Harrow schoolboy was back in the land of his father landing the winning conversion for Canada against Wales in Cardiff. Good news for the Canucks, certainly, but Rees has another mission to complete before he returns to British Columbia - calling the shots for Oxford in next month's university match.

Rees scored 16 points with the boot at the Arms Park and as the final kick sailed over he turned and gave a victory salute to his father in the stand. 'To win in those circumstances,' he said, 'ranks right up there with any of the great sporting moments.' Yesterday's activities at Iffley Road, it must be said, ranked a little lower.

Twickenham, however, will be full and Rees is a big-match player and, although he only succeeded with two out of eight shots at goal in the rout of Stanley's, just about everything else he did had a touch of class about it. Rees is taking a diploma in social studies, and the Light Blue scouts were studying him closely here.

Rees may have looked a little chunky but he is light on his feet and full of innovations. Even the torpedo throw, last seen in a university match in the Sixties, when the American, Peter Dawkins, was in residence at Oxford, made an appearance. If this was Rees having fun, on a more serious note he never ever missed touch.

The best that Cambridge can hope for is that Rees has an off-day on 4 December, but they had better not count on it. The last time he played at headquarters was for Wasps in the 1986 cup final and though Bath won 25-17 that day, Rees had an outstanding game.

Nor is the Oxford show of the one- man variety. Rees, for example, was well served at scrum-half by Gareth Baber, the Welshman preferred to Fanie du Toit, who has two Twickenham appearances behind him, against Stanley's. The back row are also pretty tasty, especially the No 8, Andrew Aitken.

Aitken has played for Western Province and the South African was a constant menace against the weakest Stanley's side anyone can remember.

Only five of the team originally announced, who had included Stuart Barnes, Gareth Chilcott and Mike Teague, actually showed up and a half century of points was always on the cards.

It was Aitken and his back-row companion, Neil Martin, who started things rolling with three tries inside the first 12 minutes. Both were later replaced, but not before Martin had completed his hat-trick. As for Rees, his parting shot was to score the sixth of nine tries prior to giving his boot a well earned rest.

Oxford: Tries Martin 3, Aitken 2, Rees, Baber, Rayner, Dickenson; Conversions Rees, Boyle 2; Penalty Rees. Stanley's XV: Try Patton; Penalty Appleson.

OXFORD UNIVERSITY: M Joy (Keble); T Watson (St Edmund Hall), L Boyle (Keble), E Rayner (Oriel), E Dickenson (St Cross); G Rees, G Baber; B Fennell, G Cooper, C Clark (all Keble), D Evans (St Anne's), J Daniell (St Catherine's), C Lion-Cachet (capt), A Aitken, N Martin (all Keble). Replacements: C Ritchie (Keble) for Aitken, 67; P Coveney (Templeton) for Martin, 75.

STANLEY'S XV: M Appleson (London Scottish); D Cooke (West Hartlepool), C Mazzariol (Treviso), S Bromley (Rugby), D Spence (University of Natal); H Long (Bath), M Kirsten (University of Cape Town); S Brown (Harlqeuins), M Patton (Bangor, capt), D Crompton (Bath), S Dear (Harlequins), K Westgarth (West Hartlepool), B Haigh (Bath), E Peters (Bath), N Giuliato (Treviso).

Referee: S Lander (Wirral).

(Photograph omitted)

Comments