14 April 2017 – Coventry 40 Oxford 28
Butts Park Arena, Coventry
Blues Not so Good Friday
The Rugby league fixture list for Good Friday contains as many derbies as possible. Traditionally, some of those matches involve teams who are only a few miles apart, but expansion teams always have further to travel. Even so, the trip to Coventry is one of Oxford’s shortest.
On this occasion, the visitors returned empty-handed, the result being a little flattering with Oxford narrowing the gap by scoring three tries in the last five minutes.
The game started badly with winger Josh Atkinson going off injured very early on, but a fine team move on 9 minutes, finished off by Jordan Gill on the other wing, gave Oxford the lead. Jack Morrison, one of Coventry’s very large forwards, equalised soon after by dragging several defenders over the line with him.
Oxford’s regained the lead, with Andy Hoggins getting his first try of the season after a cross-field kick early in the tackle count by Callum Windley. Again the lead did not last long, as Coventry full-back Harry Chapman took advantage of an overload to dart through a gap and touch down.
Much of the first half was scrappy, with many scrums after handling errors. Occasional showers probably did not help the ball control. But on the stroke of half-time, Coventry grabbed a try. From yet another scrum, they kicked on the first play to lightning winger Jamahl Hunte. Hunte’s run was very close to the line, but despite Oxford appeals the well-positioned touch judge said that he had stayed in play.
The key moments of the game were the opening minutes of the second half. The referee awarded Coventry four penalties in three minutes and put Oxford on a team warning. In the set following the fourth penalty, heroic defence had stopped Coventry just short on three occasions but Richard Hughes scored on the fifth tackle
That extended the lead to 12 points, but the real significance of the team warning came 15 minutes later when Dwaine McRae was sent to the sinbin for holding down. Coventry’s Brad Delaney kicked for goal from the penalty, but missed. However, whilst Oxford were down to 12 men, the home side scored three converted tries through Zach Johnson, Matt Reid and Billy Gaylor.
Although there was little chance to win the game, Oxford continued to press and were rewarded with three late tries from Jordan Gill, Dwaine McRae and Harvey Burnett. The last was so late that it was after the hooter had sounded.
Two weeks ago, Coventry City (now relegated) beat Oxford United at Wembley. After that match Coventry Bears tweeted, “Watch us on Good Friday at the Butts Park Arena and maybe we can make it a double over Oxford!”
Oxford – 1 Kane Riley, 2 Josh Atkinson, 3 Tommy Newbould, 4 Harvey Burnett, 5 Jordan Gill, 6 Callum Windley, 7 Scott Fleming, 25 Dwaine McRae, 9 Bradley Moules, 10 Stuart Biscomb, 11 Jordan Siddons, 12 Will Cooke, 13 Tom Alexander
Interchanges: 18 Andy Hoggins, 17 Jack Pickles, 19 Marcus Brooker, 16 Josh Kittrick
Tries: Jordan Gill (9), Andy Hoggins (18), Jordan Gill (75), Dwaine McRae (78), Harvey Burnett (80)
Goals: Scott Fleming (3 from 4), Harvey Burnett (1 from 1)
Coventry – 1 Harry Chapman, 2 Hayden Freeman, 3 Rob Meadows, 4 Matt Reid, 5 Jamahl Hunte, 6 Joe Prior, 7 Brad Delaney, 23 John Aldred, 9 Billy Gaylor, 10 Jack Morrison, 11 Kieran Sherratt, 12 Chris Barratt, 8 Zach Johnson
Interchanges: 25 Richard Hughes, 16 James Geurtjens, 17 Dan Gover, 18 Alex Beddows
Tries: Jack Morrison (12), Harry Chapman (27), Jamahl Hunte (40), Richard Hughes (44), Zach Johnson (63), Matt Reid (66), Billy Gaylor (69)
Goals: Brad Delaney (6 from 8)
Half-time – Coventry 16 Oxford 10
Full-time – Coventry 40 Oxford 28
Scoring sequence (home team first) – 0-4, 6-4, 6-10, 12-10, 16-10, 22-10, 28-10, 34-10, 40-10, 40-16, 40-22, 40-28
Referee – Michael Mannifield
Penalties – Coventry 12 Oxford 13
Sin-bin – Dwaine McRae (Oxford) – 59 minutes
Attendance – 303