Oxford match report
Pictures courtesy of Sponge SBS Photos
Oxford Rugby League 24 Coventry Bears 20
Kingstone Press League One Round 12
Iffley Road, Oxford, Saturday 27th June, 5.30pm
The Bears travelled to Oxford Saturday in confident mood after an away win to South Wales Scorpions. Coventry started strong and dominated much of the game but Oxford dug deep to swing the game and snatch a win in the last minute to seal victory.
The Bears had the better of the early contests and dominated possession and field position. Unfortunately Billy Sheen had to pull out due to an ankle injury sustained in the warm up but Stephen Coleman was on hand to step in and Dan Parker moved to the halves to cover. There were try's by Stephen Coleman and Liam Thompson while Ben Parry dropped the ball with the line begging and James Geurtjens was held up after what looked like a certain try. Oxford was lucky to go into the second half with the deficit only 6-12. Their only try coming from Rochdale loanie hooker Dean Mignacca when the Bears allowed him to pick and go from dummy half to score close to the line.
Late in the first half the Bears lost Andy Winfield for ten minutes to the sin bin for holding down and it looked like the first ten minutes of the second half could prove difficult with 12 men.
This didn't affect the Bears as they stuck to the game plan and Ben Parry managed to score out wide on the left to take the score to 6-18. The Bears looked firmly in control and now needed to kill the game off; instead they allowed Oxford playmaker Nathan Kitson to change the momentum with a hat- trick of tries. The first was a solo effort on the Bears goal line, 8 minutes later he intercepted a kick from Cameron Boulter to run 60 metres. The score was now 14 to 18 as Oxford hadn’t converted their kicks and the Bears needed to stop the rot instead they handed Oxford another massive opportunity when the ball was kicked out on the full from the restart, Oxford kicked the ball 30 metres and from the resulting set Kitson again squeezed over from dummy half. This time the try was converted and Oxford took a two point lead. 20-18. There was 15 minutes left and the Bears gathered themselves and made a number of good breaks. Matt Cooper attacked the left side and could have passed to Ben Parry for a certain try but opted to go himself, Oxford just held him out with good goal line defence. The Bears looked strong again and as they threatened the Oxford line were awarded a penalty which Dan Parker dispatched to draw level with minutes remaining. 20-20.
It was a game of who could get the field-goal to snatch the win and after a few failed attempts by the Bears; Oxford gathered themselves and put a good set together to break on the left on the last tackle to score in the corner through winger Andy Matthews. It was 24-20 and the clock was ticking with seconds remaining. The Bears tried a high kick from the restart which was gathered by impressive debutant Jason Bass, however it was called back for offside and the final hooter went.
It was a heart-breaking end to what was an impressive display by the Bears. Head coach Tom Tsang commented:
"I'm disappointed that we didn't hold on to win the game, we have learned a few valuable lessons today and need to take another look at what went wrong. We had a number of lapses of concentration especially on our goal line which allowed Oxford to score. We have a young team and are gaining experience each week, game management is a key part of that and we need to be able to focus on managing the momentum. This is year one for us and all the teams in this competition have a head start in more ways than one. We will dust ourselves down and look to next week which is sure to be another big challenge at home to North Wales Crusaders"
28 Andy Winfield, 20 Jamahl Hunte, 21 Stephen Coleman, 5 Ben Parry, 45 Jason Bass, 37 Dan Parker, 7 Cameron Boulter, 27 James Geurtjens, 24 Richie Hughes (Capt.), 40 Jack Francis, 32 Kenny Kelliher, 12 Chris Barratt, 26 Matt Cooper. Subs all used: 17 Andy Unsworth, 31 Morgan Evans, 29 Liam Thompson, 14 Dylan Bale.
Tries: Coleman (3), Thompson (30), Parry (44) Goals: Parker 4/4.
This week the Bears play North Wales Crusaders on Sunday 5th July at 3pm at the Butts Park Arena in Coventry.
This game is part of a SKY TRY schools promotion which sees the Bears giving away FREE tickets to schools over the week with discounted 50% off for parents who can come for only £5!