Slow Starting Blues
Oxford lost this rearranged League 1 match with Doncaster, although the visitors recovered after a slow start to obtain a respectable result.
The originally scheduled match had to be called off due to Doncaster’s home ground being unavailable. As it was still unavailable this game took place at the home of Featherstone Rovers. That made it an excellent opportunity for Oxford’s players to compete at a fine old traditional rugby league ground.
Post Office Road does have a significant slope, though, and playing downhill Doncaster used that to good advantage in the opening minutes. After just 44 seconds, Doncaster right winger Sam Doherty scored the first of what proved to be a hat-trick after recovering a fumbled kick.
Doncaster extended their lead to 20-0 by the 11-minute mark, with further tries from Kieran Cross, Doherty’s second and Jack Miller. The attacking flurry was helped by Oxford failing to retain possession for any length of time.
After 16 minutes the referee gave Oxford a team warning following a series of penalties conceded. It was probably coincidence but this seemed to mark a change in the game as Oxford retained possession better from this point on (and were to outscore the hosts in the remainder of the match).
The first Oxford score looked as if it had come with a trademark Jordan Gill dive by the corner flag, but the touch judge called play back for an infringement. Gill was to score a few minutes later when a good passing play fed the ball out to his wing and he was able to score cleanly. However, in-between those two incidents Brad England had extended Doncaster’s lead in the exact opposite corner of the pitch.
Just before half-time, another Oxford handling move worked the ball out to the right side, although this time it was the centre Will Cooke who was able to cross the line and score.
The second half under floodlights was much more even and generally slower. Oxford had the advantage of the slope, whilst both teams no doubt had in mind that this was only the second of three matches in a week.
Oxford coach Tim Rumford’s touchline instructions were clear for all the ground to hear, although the match officials did not always do what he said.
Jordan Siddons created the best break of the half, with a weaving run that took him to within 20 metres of the line, where he was swamped by defenders. That set came to nothing when the ball was lost two tackles later.
Doncaster’s Doherty completed his hat-trick with quarter of an hour left, but Oxford scored the last two tries. Jordan Gill pounced on a loose ball in the in-goal after Doncaster had fumble a high kick on the last tackle. And finally Marcus Brooker added another just before the hooter.
Oxford – 1 Kane Riley, 2 Adam Dent, 4 Will Cooke, 3 Tommy Newbould, 5 Jordan Gill, 21 Kieran Hyde, 6 Callum Windley, 8 Stuart Biscomb, 9 Casey Canterbury, 13 Dwaine McRae, 11 Jordan Siddons, 12 Harvey Burnett, 20 Jonny Payne
Interchanges: 17 Fran Welsh, 16 Brad Moules, 14 Marcus Brooker, 15 Anthony Cox
Tries: Jordan Gill (26), Tommy Newbould (39), Jordan Gill (73), Marcus Brooker (78)
Goals: Harvey Burnett (0 from 2), Kieran Hyde (0 from 2)
Doncaster – 29 Reece Dean, 24 Richie Barnett, 13 Charlie Martin, 3 Liam Welham, 5 Sam Doherty, 7 Jordie Hedges, 15 Jack Miller, 19 Zac Braham, 20 Kieran Cross, 16 Russ Spiers, 34 Brad England, 11 Jack Downs, 27 Pete Green
Interchanges: 10 Feka Paleaaesina, 12 Jason Muranka, 18 Ryan Wright, 14 Connor Scott
Tries: Sam Doherty (1), Kieran Cross (3), Sam Doherty (8), Jack Miller (11), Brad England (21), Jack Miller (35), Sam Doherty (66)
Goals: Jack Miller (3 from 7)
Half-time – Doncaster 30 Oxford 8
Full-time – Doncaster 34 Oxford 16
Scoring sequence – 4-0, 10-0, 14-0, 20-0, 24-0, 24-4, 30-4, 30-8, 34-8, 34-12, 34-16
Referee – Billy Pearson
Penalties – Doncaster 9 Oxford 8