5 March 2017 – Oxford 40 Hemel Stags 12
Tilsley Park, Abingdon
Blues Too Strong For Stags
Oxford got their League 1 season off to a winning start with a period of 40 unanswered points, bookended by Hemel tries. It was Oxford’s second biggest ever win, bettered only by the 46-10 victory over Hemel on the last occasion that the two sides met.
However, the game started with an early try – against his old club – by Hemel’s Jorge Richardson. Oxford’s subsequent kick-off against the wind gave spectators a good idea of the difficult conditions, with the ball being blown back almost to the 40m line where Oxford were able to re-gather.
Strong runs in the set by both Jake Joynt and Tom Alexander moved the ball close to the Hemel line. On the sixth tackle, acting half-back Casey Canterbury elected to run and managed to wriggle over the line. Taking the kicking duties for the very first time, Harvey Burnett made an impressive conversion to level the scores.
Canterbury tried the same trick on the sixth tackle a few minutes later, but this time the Hemel defence held out. But shortly after, Will Cooke broke through for a try that gave Oxford the lead for the first time in the match.
The weather deteriorated during the half, with spells of heavy driving rain. Fortunately, Wigan Warriors were not Oxford’s opponents and so the game was able to continue.
After 24 minutes Canterbury added his second with a weaving 30 metre run evading several tackles through the middle, again set up by good work from Jake Joynt.
Whilst the scoreboard kept blowing over, the Oxford scoreline kept ticking over, with two more tries. The first was a crash-over from Callum Bustin following a run by Sadiq Adebiyi. The second came after a break down the wing by Curtis Macdonald, who drew the full-back and passed inside for the supporting Callum Windley.
Callum Bustin takes the ball up for the Blues
That made the half-time score 24-6 to Oxford. In the previous game at Abingdon, Oxford had allowed a second half comeback by Coventry, but that never looked likely to happen again, helped by the strong wind behind the home side.
The half began with two disallowed Oxford tries, one on each wing, before forward Dwaine McRae extended the lead. Next Callum Bustin crashed over again, following a quick tap from a penalty just a few metres out.
Oxford’s final try came after an end-to-end passage of play. First Oxford lost the ball whilst attacking and Hemel broke away. Desperate defence stopped the attack but conceded a penalty for holding down, followed by an extra 10 metres for dissent. By now the Oxford defence was in place and won a penalty of their own after the Hemel ball-carrier led with his elbow. From the tap, Oxford broke down the left, and a pass inside allowed man-of-the-match Casey Canterbury to score for his hat-trick.
Man of the Match Casey Canterbury scores a hat-trick of tries
Hemel replied with a crash-over try of their own from Brad Clavering. The last significant action of the game was a third disallowed Oxford try. The touch judge on the far side of the play called a forward pass, chalking off a spectacular dive in the corner by Curtis Macdonald.
After the final hooter, the team posed for photos with the matchday mascot Megan, who had clearly brought good fortune.
Mascot Megan with Head Coach Tim Rumford
Delighted with Oxford’s three wins from three in league and cup at the start of the season, coach Tim Rumford said, “I am really pleased with our endeavour and excellence, and that we stuck to the task well. But we must not get too carried away. We have a young team and it will be a big challenge against an experienced Workington side next week.”
1 Kane Riley, 2 Josh Atkinson, 3 Tommy Newbould, 4 Harvey Burnett, 5 Curtis Macdonald, 6 Callum Windley, 22 Tom Alexander, 8 Jake Joynt, 9 Casey Canterbury, 19 Dwaine McRae, 11 Jordan Siddons, 12 Will Cooke, 13 Jack Pickles
Interchanges: 14 Brad Moules, 15 Liam O’Callaghan, 10 Callum Bustin, 17 Sadiq Adebiyi
Tries: Casey Canterbury (5), Will Cooke (16), Casey Canterbury (24), Callum Bustin (31), Callum Windley (35), Dwaine McRae (53), Callum Bustin (61), Casey Canterbury (69)
Goals: Harvey Burnett (4 from 8)
1 Mitch Vincent, 2 Marcus Elliott, 4 Declan Tomlinson, 3 Mindu Bendikas, 5 Darren Forde, 6 Josh Halliday, 21 Jorge Richardson, 20 Danny Samuels, 9 Declan Gregory, 8 Wayne Jowett, 12 Ross White, 11 James Thornton, 13 George Milton
Interchanges: 14 Mark Barlow, 10 Reece Williams, 22 Alex Williams, 18 Brad Clavering
Tries: Jorge Richardson (2), Brad Clavering (75)
Goals: Mitch Vincent (2 from 2)
Half-time – Oxford 24 Hemel 6
Full-time – Oxford 40 Hemel 12
Scoring sequence – 0-6, 6-6, 10-6, 16-6, 20-6, 24-6, 30-6, 34-6, 40-6, 40-12
Attendance – 161
Man of the match – Casey Canterbury
Referee – Steve Race
Penalties – Oxford 13 Hemel 8