18 February 2017 – Oxford RL 30 Coventry Bears 28
Tilsley Park, Abingdon
Oxford held off a late Coventry fight-back to make it through to the quarter-finals of the League 1 Cup for the second year running. The home team were in the lead for almost the entire game, but the narrowest gap was the one at the final hooter.
Before the match Oxford coach Tim Rumford said that Coventry were tough hard opponents but he can’t have imagined how the closing stages of this match would turn out. His team selection included eight debutants.
It was a perfect start from the Dark Blues, with a try in the corner from Josh Atkinson after just 4 minutes. The move began with a drive by Stuart Biscomb, followed by good work from Jack Pickles and Jake Joynt before the ball was worked to the left for centre Curtis Macdonald to feed the winger. Will Cooke, sponsored by T&A Maintenance, kicked the conversion from the touchline.
After a scrappy period of play with penalties and handling errors conceded by both sides, Oxford extended the lead through Callum Windley. He dived through a gap on the line, several tackles after Oxford had got good field position from a line break by Harvey Burnett.
But by half-time the score had closed to 10-6 when Jack Morrison found a large hole in the Oxford defence to score under the posts.
Oxford started the second half in the same way as the first, with a score 4 minutes in. A long pass went out to Andy Hoggins on the wing – he made good yards down the line, drew the opposing full-back and threw an inside ball to the supporting Kane Riley who scored under the posts. Will Cooke hit the right-hand upright with his conversion attempt and then didn’t take another place kick all game.
And shortly afterwards the lead was much wider with two more Oxford tries, both of which were a little unusual. For the first, the home side retained possession when a grubber from Atkinson on the 6th tackle went into touch off a Coventry defender. Jake Joynt made the most of the bonus set, going in to the left of the posts. Then, Scott Fleming scored whilst the touch judge was on the field trying to signal a penalty to Oxford for a high tackle on the half-way line. The referee awarded the try instead.
Coventry replied with a score of their own from full back Will Roper, who made the most of a breakdown in play and rounded his opposite number to go in at the corner. He missed with the touchline conversion, which was to prove crucial.
Oxford’s next set was disrupted badly with lengthy stoppages for injuries on successive plays. But shortly afterwards, drives down the middle set up good field position, and Atkinson scored his second of the game with a 20 metre run down the line.
With 7 minutes left and a 20 point lead, the result seemed clear, but Coventry second rower Matt Reid had other ideas. In that spell, he scored a hat-trick, all converted by Roper. The three tries were similar, in that they involved Reid crashing over the line from close range with defenders unable to stop him.
Before the last try we also saw an example of the new rules. Coventry kicked a 40-20, and so gained a tap rather than a scrum.
The hooter went immediately after Roper’s final conversion to give Oxford the win. Oxford’s last home game against Coventry was a classic Iffley thriller in 2015, with victory secured on the 6th tackle in the last minute. Today’s game will go down as the first real Tilsley thriller.
Finally it was also a great day for Blues Mascot Lewis who also pitched in with new friend Jamie as ball boys. Lewis walked away with the match ball which the player will sign for him. If your son or daughter would like to be a match day mascot at a home game please contact the New Official Supporters Club and Mark Timbrell on firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Oxford RL – 1 Kane Riley, 2 Andy Hoggins, 3 Harvey Burnett, 5 Curtis Macdonald, 4 Josh Atkinson, 6 Callum Windley, 7 Scott Fleming, 10 Stuart Biscomb, 9 Casey Canterbury, 8 Jake Joynt, 11 Will Cooke, 12 Marcus Brooker, 13 Jack Pickles
Interchanges: 14 Brad Moules, 15 Mark Hayes, 16 Liam O’Callaghan, 17 Anthony Cox
Tries: Josh Atkinson (4), Callum Windley (25), Kane Riley (44), Jake Joynt (52), Scott Fleming (56), Josh Atkinson (68)
Goals: Will Cooke (1 from 3), Scott Fleming (2 from 3)
Coventry Bears – 1 Will Roper, 2 Charlie O’Mara, 22 Eddie Medforth, 4 Callan Beckett, 5 Hayden Freeman, 6 Joe Prior, 7 Joel James, 8 Alex Beddows, 9 Billy Gaylor, 18 Elliott Davies, 21 Matt Reid, 12 Chris Barratt, 13 Zach Johnson
Interchanges: 14 Michael Russell, 10 Jack Morrison, 17 John Aldred, 3 Kieran Sherratt
Tries: Jack Morrison (32), Hayden Freeman (60), Matt Reid (73), Matt Reid (77), Matt Reid (80)
Goals: Will Roper (4 from 5)
Half-time – Oxford 10 Coventry Bears 6
Full-time – Oxford 30 Coventry Bears 28
Scoring sequence – 6-0, 10-0, 10-6, 14-6, 20-6, 26-6, 26-10, 30-10, 30-16, 30-22, 30-28
Referee – Greg Dolan
Penalties – Oxford 9 Coventry 11