OXFORDSHIRE put in a gritty display to make a winning start to their Bill Beaumont County Championship Division 3 campaign.

First-half tries from Evan Davies, Zinny Norman and Pete Boulton helped beat Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire & Derbyshire 19-12 at Horspath Sports Ground.

It leaves Oxon second in Pool 1 after the first weekend of the championship.

However, their positive start was tarnished by the sight of prop Boulton leaving the pitch with a knee injury.

The Oxford Times:

  • Evan Davies rounds the full-back to score Oxon’s first try Picture: Simon Grieve

With head coach Matt Goode away, backs coach Matty Mountford took charge of the side, who needed 20 minutes to gel before they put together a couple of phases without error.

During which time Notts, Lincs & Derbys had dominated at the set piece and opened up a 5-0 lead.

The visitors went ahead on 12 minutes, when Jonty Green picked up from the base of a scrum to dart over for an unconverted try.

Oxon responded well and opted to kick a penalty in front of the posts, but Leo Webb dragged his effort wide.

The hosts were still struggling in the scrum and at the breakdown, but the introduction of replacement Boulton made a big difference.

The tighthead provided Oxon with a platform, which allowed young half-backs Webb and Finn Pietersen to make an impact.

Suddenly the hosts were controlling the game and two tries in the space of as many minutes put them 12-5 ahead.

Scrum-half Webb caught the visitors on the hop with a quickly-taken penalty and fed winger Davies, who raced down the left and rounded full-back Doug Billam to score on 26 minutes, Webb converting.

They quickly went seven points in front when fine support play from Dan Brady, Joe Mills and Webb kept alive a move started by Dave Hyde and flanker Norman dived over.

The Oxford Times:

  • Zinny Norman dives over to make it 12-5 to Oxon Picture: Simon Grieve

Notts, Lincs & Derbys reacted well and their powerful pack, once again, proved effective with Ollie Collingham crossing following a driving maul, George Castledine adding the extras.

But Oxon regained control and scored on the brink of half-time when Hyde collected a line-out and fed Boulton who crashed through two tackles to plunge over, Webb converting, to make it 19-12.

The second period was just a couple of minutes old when Boulton suffered his injury.

The visitors continued to utilise their pack when play resumed, forcing Oxon to defend for most of the remainder of the game.

Having weathered the storm, the hosts finally enjoyed some territory after the hour mark but were unable to score a fourth try.

Instead they had to keep their heads as the visitors went in search of a way back into the match and they passed with flying colours, showing superb discipline to control the latter stages and secure victory.

Oxon: Mills, Davies, Leese, Janes, Brady, Pietersen, Webb, Stock, Deacon, Primett, Neal, Myatt, Jeffreys, Norman, Hyde. Reps: Marris, Boulton, Winnington-Ingram, White, Mountford, Marshall.