White‘HOT’haven hit the Blues
This was the 100th game for Oxford RLFC. That is a tremendous achievement in itself, given that many other expansion rugby league clubs have failed to reach this milestone. The game also saw Whitehaven’s first ever trip to Oxfordshire, and it was the visitors who went away with the two points.
That was in no small part due to a ruthless start to the game. After the referee judged that Whitehaven’s first attack ended with the ball-carrier being held up, they scored four tries in quick succession. Two from Scott McAvoy and one by Chris Taylor came from strong running through gaps in the home defence, whilst player-manager Carl Forster added a fourth with a dive over from close range. With three successful kicks from Paul Crook that left the score at 22-0.
However, after those 15 minutes, Oxford gradually got back into the game. Pressure from an Oxford repeat set did not lead to a score, but Whitehaven moves were no longer breaking the line, or were ending with handling errors, and the game was more even.
Just before half-time the home team did get onto the scoresheet. Jordan Siddons made a burst down the right channel, and moved the ball right to fellow second-rower Harvey Burnett. Burnett went through one tackle to reach the line and was able to put the ball down under the posts, making his own conversion a simple matter.
Oxford also started the second half brightly, and nearly scored again when Jordan Gill claimed a kick but was tackled in mid-air before he could attempt to ground the ball. On another day, this might have been considered a professional foul or even a penalty try, but this time Oxford only got a penalty. Hopes of a comeback probably ended with a knock-on on the second tackle of the next set, followed shortly by a breakaway Whitehaven try finished by Chris Taylor.
Further problems came after 50 minutes as Jordan Siddons was sent off for a high tackle. Speaking after the match, Oxford coach Tim Rumford said that although high the tackle was not malicious. This reflected the thoughts of just about everyone else in the ground, most of whom would have expected a yellow card at worst.
With the man advantage Whitehaven were able to play even more expansively and scored five further tries through Jordan Burns (2), Craig Calvert (2) and Carl Forster for his second of the game. Apart from Forster’s they were all in the corner and unconverted.
In-between Scott Fleming had pulled one back for Oxford, supporting a line break from Stuart Biscomb, the try being converted by Burnett. Oxford had one more chance in the last minute, set up by a Marcus Brooker run that went most of the length of the field. Later in the set, a kick aimed at Jordan Gill’s wing went over the dead ball line just as the final hooter sounded.
Although the Blues were unable to celebrate their centenary of matches with a win, they will travel to London Skolars next Saturday and aim to start the second hundred in the right way. Tim Rumford will be looking for a sharper start to the game, and said that “there was a lot to work on, mentally rather than physically”.
Oxford – 1 Kane Riley, 2 Harrison Brough, 3 Marcus Brooker, 4 Will Cooke, 5 Jordan Gill, 6 Callum Windley, 7 Scott Fleming, 8 Aaron Nicholson, 9 Casey Canterbury, 10 Jonny Payne, 11 Jordan Siddons, 12 Harvey Burnett, 13 Jake Joynt
Interchanges: 14 Brad Moules, 24 Stuart Biscomb, 25 Anthony Cox, 15 Dwaine McRae
Tries: Harvey Burnett (36), Scott Fleming (68)
Goals: Harvey Burnett (2 from 2)
Whitehaven – 1 Elliott Miller, 5 Jordan Burns, 3 Chris Taylor, 4 Jessie Joe Parker, 2 Craig Calvert, 6 Steve Roper, 7 Paul Crook, 8 Marc Shackley, 14 James Tilley, 19 Glenn Riley, 15 Dion Aiye, 12 Scott McAvoy, 10 Carl Forster
Interchanges: 9 James Newton, 16 Connor Holliday, 17 Tommy Holland
Tries: Scott McAvoy (3), Scott McAvoy (6), Chris Taylor (8), Carl Forster (12), Chris Taylor (45), Jordan Burns (52), Jordan Burns (57), Craig Calvert (64), Carl Forster (72), Craig Calvert (75)
Goals: Paul Crook (4 from 9), Steve Roper (0 from 1)
Half-time – Oxford 6 Whitehaven 22
Full-time – Oxford 12 Whitehaven 48
Scoring sequence – 0-6, 0-10, 0-16, 0-22, 6-22, 6-26, 6-30, 6-34, 6-38, 12-38, 12-44, 12-48
Referee – Andy Sweet
Penalties – Oxford 7 Whitehaven 10
Sent off – Jordan Siddons (Oxford) – 50 minutes