BLUES SNATCH VICTORY
Oxford RL 24 London Skolars 20
If anyone had tipped two expansion teams to progress into the semi finals of the League 1 Cup then folks would have said “April Fool!” Yes it was the 1st of April and a day to remember as both Oxford and the All Golds overcame more experienced and fancied teams.
The Blues opened the scoring with swift cross field handling releasing Curt Macdonald to touch down in the corner. Harvey Burnett just failing with a long range conversion.
The first half was littered with penalties, a large majority going in the visitors’ favour which gave them good territory to open their account. They did twice to make the score 4-8, until Josh Atkinson produced an excellent finish fending off a tackler and diving into the corner. Burnett was unsuccessful with the goal attempt and half time arrived with it all square.
The Blues delivered the first try after the break as Atkinson again finished well in the corner with Burnett’s radar fixed as he kicked from the touch line to make it 14 – 8. Were the Blues taking a hold of the game? No, as the Skolars replied at the side of the sticks to level the game again.
Winger Josh Atkinson scoring his 2nd try of the game
The arm wrestle was warming up with Oxford capturing the lead following a perfect kick to the corner for the leaping Jordan Gill to coolly gather and score. No conversion left it 18 – 14 and disallowed tries for both sides added to the tension.
Red cards appeared firstly for Skolars after a long on field meeting by the officials for a suspected incident. Oxford didn’t get the opportunity to make the extra man count, as shortly after wing man Curt Macdonald was also shown red following a melee of players as the temperature of the game rose.
Composure was needed to take the game and Skolars pressed hard at the Oxford defence which was producing a great display of solid tackling. The Blues line was resolute and it took a short kick that was half claimed and fell nicely into the path of a pressing Skolars attacker to break the line. Try and goal at the side of the sticks made it 18 – 20 to Skolars. Surely this was the game breaker?
Young enthusiasm combined with lessons learnt from the Coventry game to go the whole 80 minutes was about to payback for the Blues. Minutes remaining and strong clearing runs opened space for Atkinson to chip and chase. The ball bouncing and the full back misjudging gifted Atkinson the chance. He took it and completed his hat trick under the posts to make Burnett’s first easy goal.
24 – 20 to Oxford in a tense competitive cup tie where the Blues showed a lot of grit and fought intensely for their well deserved win.
Blues mascot Nicole pictured with Captain Callum Windley was delighted with the day. Oxford are at home next Sunday at Tilsley Park, 2pm kick off against York City Knights. Get yourself down and catch the Blues in action.
The draw for the semi-final of the 2017 League 1 Cup will take place on Monday, April 3 from 12.30pm.
Broadcast live on the Rugby Football League Facebook Page, England Assistant Coach Paul Anderson will be joined by BBC Rugby League Correspondent Dave Woods to conduct the draw.
Fans wanting to watch the draw should visit www.facebook.com/rugbyfootballleague/ to view the live stream.