14 May 2017 – Oxford 24 Hunslet 22
Tilsley Park, Abingdon
Blues Record Historic Win
Since the last home game five weeks ago, Oxford had made lengthy trips to play the top two sides in League 1, Barrow and Toronto. Hunslet arrived in fourth place in the league, but left only with their first ever defeat to Oxford. Summer signing Harrison Brough caught the eye on his debut with two tries, including the winner.
In the initial exchanges both sides made handling errors and failed to complete a set. But after gaining possession via a penalty, Hunslet opened the scoring by passing the ball until Liam Mackay was able to find a gap in the defence.
Oxford replied soon. A Hunslet attack ended with the ball going dead. A very quick 20 metre tap when almost all Hunslet players were still offside allowed Kane Riley to make good ground. Harvey Burnett added further yards, and on the sixth tackle Callum Windley pinged a perfect pass to Harrison Brough on the right wing.
A converted try gave Oxford the lead shortly afterwards. Jake Joynt did well to get the ball down on the right of the posts after a spell of pressure, including a repeat set after a Hunslet fumble of an Oxford kick. The lead was extended when Josh Atkinson was first to a grubber kick and touched down.
Hunslet’s second penalty of the match also led to their second try, and after Oxford had a try disallowed for crossing it looked as though it would be only a small advantage for the home side at the break. Instead Harvey Burnett scored just before the hooter and then converted his own try.
The visitors started the second half in much better fashion. Aided by penalties in quick succession, they scored two unconverted tries in the first ten minutes of the half to bring the scores level. The second was a dive over the line on the sixth tackle from acting half-back George Flanagan after they had gone the full length of the pitch in one set.
Oxford had opportunities during the half, often by moving the ball to either wing, but several promising moves broke down when forcing the pass.
With quarter of an hour left and the scores level, the game might have approached drop goal territory. But the referee awarded Hunslet a penalty for offside under the posts, and Joe Sanderson kicked the goal to give his team the advantage.
On 76 minutes, Oxford regained the lead with a spectacular diving try next to the corner by Harrison Brough. Harvey Burnett took a lot of time with the touchline conversion attempt but just missed.
This led to possibly the most bizarre period of play seen at any Oxford game. Kicking into the wind, Hunslet were able to retrieve the ball from their kick-off and so mount one last attack.
Even though trailing by 2 points, they attempted a drop goal in front of the posts. The kick was poor and hardly left the ground, but hit an Oxford defender and bounced forward. Another Oxford player dived on the ball, but was in front of the first, so the referee gave a penalty to Hunslet. Instead of kicking another penalty goal, they elected to run.
The first tackle was held up over the line – Oxford’s tacklers attempted to push the ball-carrier over the dead ball line, but the referee called held first. The second tackle was also held up over the line. Hunslet then moved the ball wide but conceded a scrum with a handling error later in the set.
At the scrum, Hunslet tried a push to make it difficult, but Oxford were able to keep the ball. We then saw four one-out tackles to run down the clock. On the sixth, Callum Windley attempted a 40-20, but his kick just went out on the full. Hunslet did not get another chance, though, as the full-time hooter immediately signalled another famous victory.
A few minutes later, a fly past of biplanes and other aircraft came over the ground. This might have been something to do with the air show at the nearby Dalton Barracks, rather than a tribute to Oxford’s result – make your own mind up.
Speaking after the game, Oxford coach Tim Rumford said that it was “a very very pleasing end result, but our performance can be better. We have a young team and sometimes we throw one pass too many.”
The Blues team with mascot Leon
Oxford – 1 Kane Riley, 22 Harrison Brough, 3 Harvey Burnett, 4 Will Cooke, 2 Josh Atkinson, 6 Callum Windley, 7 Josh Kittrick, 25 Anthony Cox, 9 Casey Canterbury, 8 Dwaine McRae, 11 Jordan Siddons, 24 Stuart Biscomb, 13 Jake Joynt
Interchanges: 14 Brad Moules, 15 Aaron Nicholson, 16 Marcus Brooker, 17 Dan Hindmarsh
Tries: Harrison Brough (13), Jake Joynt (18), Josh Atkinson (24), Harvey Burnett (40), Harrison Brough (76)
Goals: Harvey Burnett (2 from 5)
Hunslet – 1 Jimmy Watson, 38 Niall Walker, 12 Aston Wilson, 24 Cameron Leeming, 39 Josh Nathaniel, 6 Joe Sanderson, 7 Danny Ansell, 10 Lewis Reed, 25 Matthew Tebb, 8 Michael Haley, 4 Mufaro Mvududu, 13 Liam Mackay, 17 Nyle Flynn
Interchanges: 14 George Flanagan, 15 Jack Coventry, 19 Matt Carbutt, 21 Jack Walton
Tries: Liam Mackay (6), George Flanagan (30), Cameron Leeming (45), George Flanagan (49)
Penalty Goal: Joe Sanderson (66)
Other Goals: Joe Sanderson (2 from 4)
Half-time – Oxford 20 Hunslet 12
Full-time – Oxford 24 Hunslet 22
Scoring sequence – 0-6, 4-6, 10-6, 14-6, 14-12, 20-12, 20-16, 20-20, 20-22, 24-22
Referee – Greg Dolan
Penalties – Oxford 7 Hunslet 8