South Wales Ironmen 4 Oxford RL 18
Atrocious weather couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm and the will to win of a young Oxford side in Merthyr Tydfil. Biting wind and rain lashed everything in sight but the Blues desire remained as constant as the rain!
A testing 20 minute spell saw both sides go close to the line, with Oxford having a score denied, until Casey Canterbury stepped through and broke the deadlock darting over the line. Gill’s goal kick saw the gale force wind grasp the ball and carry it away from the sticks! Blues applied more pressure which saw Will Cooke burst through the Welsh defense and power his way over the line for an 8 nil lead.
The home side responded in the next set following a knock on giving them good field position for Paul Edwards to touch down in the corner. The conversion again blown off target with the gale. Half time came and the Blues took shelter with an 8 – 4 lead.
The second half commenced and the weather deteriorated but not the Ironmen’s spirit. Energised by Oxford ball spills in contact, the home side pushed in vain to take charge of the game. The Blues composure was as strong as the wind in their faces and Dwaine McRae latched onto a pass at pace to bolt through the Welsh line and score. Gill judging the elements well to convert the extras. To name a man of the match for the Blues is a tough call but centre Harvey Burnett and back rower Will Cooke put in big defensive and impressive yardage displays that their team mates readily acknowledge.
Oxford ‘s head coach Tim Rumford commented “I’m very pleased with our character and discipline which the team has shown in poor playing conditions. South Wales have a big tough set of forwards and gave no quarter and our lads stuck to their task from start to finish. We have talked about this and while it’s early days, it’s pleasing to see young heads maturing and taking instruction on board. The lads deserve all the plaudits for a big performance in such dire weather.”
Unlike last week when the young Blues allowed Coventry to come back into the game, they showed that lessons were learnt and finished the job in hand, as slick handling by Callum Windley released the improving Tom Alexander to dive in the corner and put his team into the fourth round hat.
Credit and huge thanks to the Blues supporters who braved the elements to cheer their team on a day that will be remembered firstly for the wind, rain and cold.