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RUGBY LEAGUE: Knights batter depleted Oxford on Henley debut
8:00am Tuesday 15th July 2014 in Rugby
KINGSTONE PRESS CHAMPIONSHIP ONE
OXFORD RL’s first match at Henley ended in a 58-16 defeat to leaders York City Knights.
The game was switched to Dry Leas with Oxford’s regular Iffley Road base out of action for renovations.
And although outplayed, the hosts had the consolation of a debut try from triple Oxford University rugby union Blue Sam Egerton.
Captain Alex Thompson scored twice in the second half, but his side lost second row JJ Baird to a knee injury.
Oxford coach Tony Benson said Baird’s early injury was a massive loss to his team, revealing he won’t be able to play for six to eight weeks.
He said: “We’re down by 12 players and we’ve gone into the game having exhausted players from the Oxford Cavaliers team.
“It was one of the prop’s second ever game of rugby league and our full back’s (Egerton) first game.
“Other props only have played a handful of games and York got us in the middle.
“We’ve learned a lot from it and we will come back a lot stronger.”
Oxford slipped to eighth with their home defeat and London Skolars beating Hemel Stags.
York were on the board in their first attack with the Ben Dent reaching past two Oxford defenders to score.
The hosts responded quickly, capitalising on a penalty 30 metres from their opponents’ try-line with Egerton arcing his run to beat the Knights’ challenges and levelling the game.
York then piled on the pressure and were rewarded in the 12th minute when dual-registered Castleford player Ben Reynolds, who kicked nine conversions, grubbered for Brad Day to score the first of a hat-trick.
Oxford had a great opportunity to respond immediately, winning a scrum 20 metres from York’s try-line, but Tommy Connick, who kicked two conversions, knocked on.
The hosts rued the missed chance when the Knights went up the other end and Jack Lee pierced through the defence to extend their lead.
Baird injured his knee in the lead-up to the try.
Day then grabbed his second try after a sweeping move from left to right.
Oxford had a sustained period of play in their opponents’ half until the moment of the match.
With Oxford attacking on the final tackle, Connick lofted the ball out to the right wing and Dent, under pressure from two charging Blues players, won the battle and went on to run the length of the pitch to score.
Knights boss Gary Thornton called the try “absolutely sensational.”
York carried on where they left off after the break with Kris Brining capitalising on a loose ball to get on the scoresheet and James Saltonstall scoring his own wonder try, running fully 50 metres to the try-line.
Thompson replied with two much-needed tries for the hosts either side of efforts from James Ford and Ed Smith for the visitors.
York had the final word when Day completed his hat-trick, ghosting past a weak and demoralised Oxford backline.
Oxford RL: Egerton, Parker, Mulkeen, Brooker, Briggs, Rice, Connick, Blaney, Sharratt, Davies, Baird, Hoggins, Thompson. Reps: Hayles, Newton, Vickers, Evans.
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