Stanley's exploit explosive start

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Oxford University 31 Major Stanley's XV 41

Stanley's XV yesterday weathered a spirited second-half fightback by Oxford University to end a three-match losing run. Stanley's reaped the rewards for fielding a stronger line-up than last year - when the Dark Blues won 80-58 - and raced into a 29-0 lead in the first half hour.

Oxford were caught cold from the start and the Bath full-back Audley Lumsden ran through a gaping hole in defence to touch down the first of Stanley's seven tries.

The Double Blue Willem Van der Merwe, a last-minute replacement for the Frenchman Albert Cigagna, helped himself to two tries and the Japanese international Yukio Motoki and Lumsden added further tries - two of which were converted by the Canadian stand-off, Gareth Rees.

Oxford's only reply was a try by Quentin De Bruyn, converted by David Humphreys, but they responded after the interval to dominate. The full- back, Pierre Du Preez, and winger Sam Rush scored unconverted tries before Rees retorted with a try and conversion to make the score 36-17 after 64 minutes.

The remainder of the game belonged to Oxford who moved to within five points with tries by Colman McCarthy and Jon Sackree, converted by Humphreys. But the visitors held out and, in the last minute, John Tucker made the game safe with a try in the corner.

Oxford University: S Du Preez (Queen's); S Rush (Mansfield), Q De Bruyn (Keble), J Riondet (Mansfield), T Howe (Keble, capt); D Humphreys (St Cross), M Butler (St Edmund Hall); C Norton (Keble), K Svoboda (Templeton), D Penney (Wolfson), N Basson (St Cross), R Yeabsley (Keble), C McCarthy (Templeton), M Reilly (St Anne's); M Orsler (Christ Church). Replacements: J Sakree for Du Preez, 65; J Britton for Orsler, 40.

Major Stanley's XV: A Lumsden (Bath); D O'Leary (Harlequins), Y Motoki (Kobe Steel), F Pescher (Limoges), D Chapman (Esher); G Rees (Newport, capt), S Bates (Wasps); D Morris (Neath), S Mitchell (Harlequins), K Yates (Bath), G Llewellyn (Neath), D Sims (Gloucester), G Allison (Harlequins), W van der Merwe (University of Cape Town), R Jenkins (Harlequins). Replacements: P Srivener (Wasps) for Yates, 40; J Tucker (Sydney Univ) for Chapman, 44.

Referee: A Spreadbury (Bristol).

n Chris Sheasby, the Harlequins flanker, will be out of action for at least two months after suffering a detached retina against Orrell last Saturday.