Not a christmas cracker.
Nick Brown reports from Oxford, on a game that could have gone either way.
OXFORD HARLEQUINS 48 – 28 WITNEY
A dull still afternoon at Marston Ferry Road, where Witney were
meeting Quins for the ‘away’ game of the Season. Witney having lost the home leg! Witney were welcoming back Phil Thomas for his first game for two seasons. He was replacing the injured(?) (or was he up in Blackpool subbing for Giovanni (not Dominici – Sorry got the name wrong last week) Arrun Lambourne.
Within two minutes Quins had run through Witney’s poor tackling with full-back Charlie Craig, coming into the line coming into the line and scoring. Fly Half Sam Watkinson making the conversion. 7 – 0
(11 mins ) The game went to and fro and Quins had an impressive 30m Maul. (15 mins) Witney were now coming into the game and had a penalty lineout in Quins’ 22. The move went left and right but broke down.
(20 mins) Witney still having most of the possession but had lost the ball and a Quins’ kick saw Fullback Phil Thomas caught but the ball was rucked and moved a short distance right then back left to Prop Jamie Burke, who was able to get up to full steam bundling would-be tacklers out of the way until he was in the 22 where he passed to left wing Ben Fisk who crossed the try Line running behind the Defence
to make it easier for the Phil Thomas Conversion. 7 – 7
(22 mins) Quins Penalty Goal not rolling away, Watkinson 10-7
(26 mins) Thomas cleared his half with a long touch kick to Quins’ 22. Witney regained the ball after Quins lineout and rucked the ball
on the 5 metre line with Prop Al Richens going over underneath the posts. Thomas converting. 10-14
(32 mins) 2nd Row Matt Webb Try-saving tackle taking Wing into touch by corner flag.
(39 mins) The Quins were now looking like a shadow of what they were at the start and Witney completely dominant moving the ball all over the field. In a passing move from right to left the ball passed to Burke who did his second flip-pass (of the game) to 2nd Row and Captain Scott Mortimer, on Quins’ 10m, who showed his pace then strength when he was tackled on the 22, got up and raced ahead of his pursuers to score under the posts. Thomas converting. 10-21
What a change in Witney after the first ten minutes, and the same goes for Quins! The Witney spectators on the touch line were talking about an easy win for Witney. However, they also remembered when Witney had been in the same situation and Quins had ended up winning.
Just like the start of the first Half Quins ran through a, still in the changing room, Witney Defence centre James Stacey scoring and Watkinson converting 17 - 21.
2 minutes later a Witney high kick was gathered by No. 8 Fotu Latu, on his 10m, who ran at Witney and burst through mid-defence , gaining 30 m. The ball was then passed out to the support and Stacey scored his second Try, Watkinson converting 24 - 21 (10 mins) Witney had woken up again, as in the first half and were back in the match, having played into Quins’ Half and taking the ball into the 22 where 2nd row Webb in support crashed over the line near the posts. 24 -28
For a while it looked as though Witney were again going to run Quins ragged but this was short lasted and Quins backs were being used very well making inroads through Witney’s defence.
(19 mins) Ball held up over Witney’s Try Line.
(20 mins) From a scrum on Witney’s 5m, Latu picked up from the base and scored
Watkinson converting. 31 – 28 ( (23 mins) Quins Penalty kick to touch in Witney’s 22. Quins mauled from the lineout for another Try, scored by George Tierney, converted by Watkinson 38 – 28 .
(26 mins)Quins, still dominant, for the second time in the game threw a ball to No1 in the lineout on Witney’s 5m and 2nd Row Alan Purchase crashed over, Watkinson converting. 45 – 28
( 42 mins) Watkinson converted a Penalty. 48 – 28
Another game to go down in the annals where Witney were beaten by Quins when it looked likely that they were going to win!! The Witney pack let the Quins front eight put them under pressure for the whole game.