Regional 1 Midlands Round 6: Oxford Harlequins 37-25 Derby

DERBY couldn’t dent Oxford Harlequins’ perfect record at the top of Regional 1 Midlands but they made sure they had something to show for their efforts at the finish.
The home side made it six wins out of six by defeating Derby 37-25 but the visitors kept fighting to the finish and bagged a try bonus point, although they were frustrated not to claim a losing bonus point as well.
“One of our goals was to at least get a point from the game if we couldn’t get the win,” said Derby head coach Mark Bradley.
“But I think we could have got more than just the try bonus point.
“We were not far away against the leaders. We do have some injuries and if we had been full strength I think we would have pushed them even closer.
“It was frustrating not to get a losing bonus point as well. There were a couple of missed tackles that allowed them to get away and score which put the losing bonus point out of reach.”
Oxford showed great attacking speed, accelerating through the smallest of gaps and swerving to avoid tackles. This led to several missed tackles, which proved costly for Derby.
In the first 20 minutes, Quins scored two unconverted tries, while McGrath Van Wyk kicked a penalty for the visitors.
But Derby started to find their feet and pushed to break through a solid defence. On the half hour mark, Sam Tebbs, returning as captain after recovering from an ankle injury, got free before passing to Lewis Hancock, who went over in the corner for an unconverted try to make the score 10-5.
However, both Quins wingers then raced through the Derby defence untouched to score two more unconverted tries to establish a 20-8 half-time lead.
Derby started the second half well and, following a turnover, debutant full-back Ben Wilcox burst through at speed for a try, which was converted by Van Wyk to narrow the gap to five points.
But the visitors paid the price for missed tackles again as Oxford went through for a converted try and five minutes later the home side touched down again, although this time the extras were missed.
Derby continued to battle and were rewarded when Wilcox went over for his second try, although the conversion was missed, leaving the score at 32-20.
The visitors kept battling but were frustrated when Quins broke free from a maul for an unconverted try.
Refusing to give up, Hancock scored his second try from another quickly taken penalty to claim the try bonus point.
It was Hancock’s 150th appearance for the club and Bradley added: “Lewis is doing what he did last season and continuing to keep the points rolling in, you can’t fault him.
“Ben gives us a different dimension with his pace and he showed that by scoring a couple of tries on his debut, as well as setting up another one.
“There was also a debut for Nathan Bevan-Brown, who played for about 35 minutes in the second row. He carried the ball well into contact and did exactly what we wanted from him.”