Counties fine win over Oxfordshire

EASTERN Counties made the long journey into the Oxfordshire home of the Red Kite Chinnor RFC in Thame.

Rugby Union:

County Championship Shield

Eastern Counties 18 Oxfordshire 14

EASTERN Counties made the long journey into the Oxfordshire home of the Red Kite Chinnor RFC in Thame.

It was the Counties front five who tamed the Oxfordshire Bulls in soaring temperatures to take top spot in the County Championship Shield (Southern Group).

Counties took the lead on four minutes with a Peter Clifford penalty, the visitors taking the territorial honours during the first quarter but it was Oxon who had gained the lead against the run of play.

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Oxon then had their best period of the half during a five minute spell. Pip Seymour got his first of two tries on 17 minutes when he touched down in the corner and James Cathcart (Chinnor) slotted over a fine conversion.

From the restart Counties created a turnover and powered up to the Oxon line winning a series of penalties that finally resulted in a try for Diss' Paul Cayley giving Counties a one point lead.

On the stroke of half time the visitors won a penalty 40 metres out and Clifford coolly slotted over the bar to give Eastern Counties a four point lead and looked like they would go on to rack up a big score in the second half because at this point Oxon looked like a beaten side.

Counties extended their lead nine minutes into the second half as the pack bludgeoned their way over the line giving Tim Groom the chance to score a typical “Groomy” try that the people of Diss know so well. Clifford then gave Counties an 11 point lead with the conversion.

A nightmare 30 seconds of poor tackling allowed Seymour through for his second score and Matt Goode's (Rugby Lions) conversion set up a nail biting final five minutes that Counties survived.

News then came through that Cornwall had lost away to Hertfordshire on Saturday and it is Eastern Counties who now top this group and with two wins guarantees safety in this section of the County Championship. It keeps the dream alive of promotion into the top flight of rugby's County Championship.