9 April 2017 – Oxford 35 York City Knights 28
Tilsley Park, Abingdon
For the second week in succession, Oxford secured a memorable late win at home.
Scores in the last 10 minutes from Callum Windley and Jordan Siddons clinched a deserved victory over York City Knights. It was almost three years ago that Oxford last beat a heartland team in the League, with that win also being against York.
The sky was cloudless and the temperature over 20 degrees, but there was the normal stiff breeze at Tilsley Park. York had the advantage of the wind in the first half and it showed when Oxford’s opening kick-off travelled only 30 metres. Worse was to follow when on the second tackle York’s Harry Carter went the remaining length of the field to open the scoring after just 28 seconds.
York scored another a few minutes later through Hull FC loanee Nick Rawsthorne after an Oxford knock-on had gifted them possession. It looked as though this might be a game that would get away from Oxford.
Instead the home team turned things around with two quick tries. Firstly, Jordan Gill scored down the right after a good passing move. And when a York attack ended with a fumble near the line, Oxford threw the ball wide on the free play and were in the opposing half when York eventually made the zero tackle. Max Jowitt finished the set off with a try and also converted both those scores to give Oxford a two-point lead quarter of the way into the match.
The visitors made the most of some handling errors to attack and score next, Jonny Presley scampering in from acting half-back. Five minutes later, Brad Hey was able to retrieve a kick-through after initially fumbling it, and was able to run on and score.
Oxford fought back with Jordan Gill’s second after a chip-kick from Callum Windley. That narrowed the gap to four points, but in the last minute of the half hooker Will Jubb burrowed over near the posts after York had gained possession following another knock-on. The hooter went immediately after the conversion.
Oxford’s Jordan Gill takes on the York defence
Had York not scored in both the first and last minutes of the half the game it would have looked very close. What no-one knew at this stage was that they would fail to get a single point in the second half. And just to remind everyone how windy it was, the home dug-out blew over during the half-time interval.
A recurring theme of the second half was York conceding penalties and the Oxford fight-back began following one of those. The kick to touch provided good field position and after several passes the ball reached Marcus Brooker. He dummied a pass to the wing, before diving over the line inside his opposing centre. Brooker was only in the left centre position after a shuffle following an earlier injury to Josh Atkinson who had had to leave the field temporarily.
York’s best spell of the second half came with 20 minutes to go and saw them get over the line on three occasions in four tackles. On all three occasions they were held up, although the referee did award a penalty for the first of those. Oxford’s strong defence got its reward when York fumbled later in the set to relieve the pressure.
Callum Windley kicked a 40-20 and on the first tackle from the scrum it looked as though Stuart Biscomb’s extra effort had taken him in to score. However the referee judged that he had bounced the ball over the line.
And if a 40-20 was rare, the next action was completely bizarre. Following a penalty, Oxford’s kick failed to find touch, but incredibly the speedy Jordan Gill was able to catch it. He then used his momentum to beat several defenders and score a try for his hat-trick. Max Jowitt kicked the goal to level the scores. I don’t think that anyone will try to claim that this kick-and-catch was a planned move.
The later stages of the game saw lengthy stoppages for injuries to Casey Canterbury and Max Jowitt. Jowitt was clattered by York’s captain Ed Smith whilst both went for a kick on the sixth tackle. Smith was sin-binned and that meant he would miss the remainder of the match.
Both sides were now looking for a drop goal. It appeared that Oxford would get the first chance but a knock-on near the posts ended that move. York’s next set got them to 40m from goal, but the ambitious attempt was both low and wide.
That kicker had been put under severe pressure from Callum Windley, but there was little similar pressure on Windley himself when he took aim at the end of the next set. He was some distance to the side of the goal and 30 metres out, but the ball sailed straight through the middle of the posts to give Oxford the lead.
Oxford’s Callum Windley who knocked over the drop goal to give Oxford a 1 point advantage
York tried to regain possession with a short kick-off, but Oxford just managed to claim the ball. And the result was sealed when Jordan Siddons burst through to score, something that must have given him particular pleasure with his brother being on the opposing team.
York did mount one last-ditch attack, but the hooter sounded to signal a famous victory. Although there were handling errors, Oxford’s key strength had been the ability to move the ball around the pitch quickly. On a 4G pitch and in summer weather, this is exactly how to provide a fast and entertaining game. The team also showed great resilience to recover after going behind.
Oxford – 1 Max Jowitt, 2 Josh Atkinson, 3 Kane Riley, 4 Curtis Macdonald, 5 Jordan Gill, 6 Callum Windley, 7 Scott Fleming, 24 Stuart Biscomb, 9 Casey Canterbury, 8 Dwaine McRae, 11 Harvey Burnett, 12 Will Cooke, 13 Jordan Crowther
Interchanges: 14 Brad Moules, 15 Marcus Brooker, 18 Jordan Siddons, 25 Anthony Cox
Tries: Jordan Gill (15), Max Jowitt (20), Jordan Gill (34), Marcus Brooker (48), Jordan Gill (67), Jordan Siddons (78)
Goals: Max Jowitt (5 from 6)
Drop Goal: Callum Windley (75)
York – 22 Liam Harris, 4 Tommy Brierley, 24 Nick Rawsthorne, 19 James Haynes, 5 Tommy Saxton, 23 Jonny Presley, 7 Harry Tyson-Wilson, 8 Bobby Tyson-Wilson, 14 Harry Carter, 10 Chris Siddons, 12 Ed Smith, 11 Brad Hey, 13 Tim Spears,
Interchanges: 16 Ronan Dixon, 30 Will Jubb, 28 Kieran Moran, 3 Nev Morrison
Tries: Harry Carter (1), Nick Rawsthorne (7), Jonny Presley (24), Brad Hey (29), Will Jubb (40)
Goals: Harry Tyson-Wilson (4 from 5)
Half-time – Oxford 18 York 28
Full-time – Oxford 35 York 28
Scoring sequence – 0-6, 0-10, 6-10, 12-10, 12-16, 12-22, 18-22, 18-28, 22-28, 28-28, 29-28, 35-28
Referee – Tom Crashley
Penalties – Oxford 8 York 3
Sin-bin – Ed Smith (York) 72 minutes