Ran­som pays out in Ox­ford tri­umph

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Varsity Matches - By Char­lie Mor­gan at Twick­en­ham

Ben Ran­som de­liv­ered a man-ofthe-match dis­play as Ox­ford surged to vic­tory in the 137th Var­sity Match with five tries.

There was a Sara­cens stamp on the win. The Dark Blues had been coached by Eng­land scrum-half Richard Wig­glesworth and then a vir­tu­oso per­for­mance from full­back Ran­som stole the show.

The 26-year-old had con­trib­uted to do­mes­tic and Euro­pean glo­ries over five sea­sons at Sara­cens be­fore join­ing Lon­don Ir­ish. He chose to leave the Ex­iles to pur­sue a masters in busi­ness man­age­ment.

Ran­som was a scam­per­ing, as­sured pres­ence, play­ing two scor­ing passes to right-wing Dan Bar­ley, se­cur­ing a tor­rent of high balls and evad­ing Cam­bridge de­fend­ers.

“All year we bought into that am­a­teur cul­ture – a love of the game, a love of each other,” he said af­ter­wards. “The first 20 min­utes Cam­bridge came at us. In the sec­ond half, we built on the mo­men­tum and took it to them in the wide chan­nels.”

Cam­bridge cap­tain Nick Koster be­gan the game with a se­ries of bruis­ing car­ries and also clamped over Ox­ford wing Tom Stile­man to win a break­down penalty.

Three penal­ties from Cam­bridge fly-half Mike Phillips al­lowed Cam­bridge to build a 9-3 ad­van­tage be­fore Wig­glesworth’s in­flu­ence started to shine through. A box-kick from Ox­ford scrum-half Ge­orge Tresid­der skipped into touch on the Cam­bridge 22. After the line-out was stolen, Ran­som stepped out­side Cam­bridge left-wing Joe Story be­fore draw­ing op­po­site man Joey Ga­tus and free­ing Bar­ley. Tom Hum­ber­stone’s touch­line con­ver­sion sent Ox­ford in at half-time with a 10-9 ad­van­tage.

Early in the sec­ond pe­riod, Story spilt an­other Tresid­der box-kick and ref­eree Nigel Owens pe­nalised Cam­bridge for off­side.

Ox­ford’s driv­ing maul, pro­pelled by former Har­lequins lock Ge­orge Rob­son, could not be stopped. In the mid­dle of it was back-rower Char­lie Poz­niak who scored the try. Hum­ber­stone con­verted.

Ran­som then rose to gather a Cam­bridge clear­ance and flum­moxed four chasers. The ball was spread across the 22 and Stile­man scored a first try on his fourth Var­sity match ap­pear­ance.

Ran­som’s chip and chase turned Cam­bridge and when Phillips in­fringed, pick­ing up a yel­low card, Ox­ford kicked to touch. Ran­som’s off­load pro­vided Bar­ley’s sec­ond.

Cam­bridge hit back with a driv­ing maul that car­ried over Koster but Hum­ber­stone, aided by Ran­som, wrig­gled through for Ox­ford’s fifth try, con­vert­ing him­self for a tally of 18 points.

“I’m at Ox­ford for an ed­u­ca­tion,” said Ran­som, an­swer­ing whether he would be tempted back into pro­fes­sional sport. “I’d never say never. If a good team came along and I wanted to con­tinue with my [play­ing] ca­reer then po­ten­tially but, right now, I am fo­cused on the next phase of my life.”

Cup of joy: Ox­ford cel­e­brate their vic­tory over Cam­bridge in the Var­sity match

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