Regional 1 Midlands Round 16: Derby 27 – 32 Oxford Harlequins

Derby faced league leaders, Oxford Harlequins, at Haslam’s and it turned into a tremendous match.

Derby gave a debut to Josh Roberts, from the bench, while Fred Chell made his home debut, also from the bench.

Derby kicked off and they made all the early running, camping in the Oxford 22. Unfortunately, they were unable to turn pressure into points and when Oxford lifted the siege, they swept upfield to open the scoring with a converted try, after 15 minutes.

Derby got on the scoreboard, 3 minutes later, with a Ben Wilcox penalty. 2 minutes later, Oxford struck with a penalty of their own.

The clock showed 28 minutes and Derby were again attacking. This time they found a way through; a Ben Wilcox kick was gathered by Will Town who touched down.

The last 5 minutes before the break proved costly for Derby as they conceded 2 tries, 1 of which was converted. This left the halftime score 22 – 8 in Oxford’s favour. Oxford were certainly showing why they were top of the league with quick passing and clever movement.

The general feeling among the Derby faithful was that Derby would need to score first in the second half if they were to get anything out of the game. 

After 4 minutes they did just that! Oxford were pressing, but Will Town read the move and intercepted the pass in his own half. Off he went and seconds later was touching down under the posts, for his 12th try of the season. Ben Wilcox converted and the gap was down to 7 points.

Derby continued to press and forward drives led to skipper, Charlie Barker, crashing over the line to score, in the 54th minute. Ben Wilcox converted to level the scores.

Derby were in the ascendancy at this point and scored again 7 minutes later, to take the lead. This time the ball was spun wide and Lewis Hancock did well to force his way over in the corner to bag his 12th try of the season.

Oxford were not finished however and broke away to score a converted try, with 12 minutes left.

A successful Oxford penalty kick stretched their lead to 5 points, with 4 minutes remaining.

Derby pounded away for the rest of the game but were unable to find the score they needed, despite Oxford being reduced to 14 men, due to persistent infringements.

The final whistle saw Oxford victorious. Derby played extremely well and if they can continue in this way, they should pick up some victories in the final part of the season.

Come on Derby!

Report by: Richard Bambra