South Wales Scorpions’ search for a victory in 2014 continues after a frustrating afternoon at Oxford where the home side had to work hard to achieve the win.
It was an even game, more so than the scoreline suggests, where the Welsh were unlucky to be on the wrong end of some controversial 50-50 decisions in the first half.
No more so than when they were 6-0 up and their half-back Paul Emanuelli kicked what looked to be a 40-20. The officials looked to have agreed this was the case but following protests from Oxford players, the decision was reversed and the chance to extend the lead was lost.
One decision from a former Super League referee doesn’t make a game but it certainly helps. There was also the fact that two well-worked tries in as many minutes early in the second half was in the end the security Oxford needed, and with temperatures hot for Rugby League in southern England, it was getting more and more difficult for the dehydrated teams to turn on the style.
Lapses of concentration also cost the Scorpions and for the second week in a row, they’ll go away from a match knowing that they were capable of winning it.
It was a strong first set from both sides as the Scorpions won the ball from their own kick-off and pounded the Oxford defence that remained firm.
Scorpions worked their way upfield again, winning back to back sets that resulted in the opening try with Connor Farrer going over from dummy half. Paul Emanuelli converted.
Oxford levelled when Alex Thompson stormed under the sticks on the final tackle of a set. Jimmy Rowland converted.
In a carbon copy of Scorpions’ first try, Farrer put the Welsh side back in the lead, again via back to back sets. Emanuelli converted.
But Oxford again hit back when Sean Morris scored in the corner. Rowland missed on this occasion leaving the Scorpions two points up.
JJ Baird tried to take advantage of the ball rebounding off the bar for a further Oxford score but somehow managed to trip over the ball rather than ground it!
Then at the other end, Harrison Elliot was denied a try due to offside.
Oxford did eventually take the lead. Rowland’s grubber was well picked up by Farrer but from the next set, winger Callum Mulkeen took advantage of a gap. Rowland converted well to make the score 16-12.
And after winning a goal-line drop-out, they increased their advantage to 22-12 at the break after Rowland battled his way over and converting himself.
Matty Hadden added to the score seven minutes after the break with a try to the right of the sticks that Rowland had no problem converting.
Then straight from kick-off, Rowland and Morris linked well for the full-back to score his second of the game with a well-worked try under the sticks. Tommy Connick converted.
In contrast to many previous games this season, Scorpions weren’t going to let the game go without a fight. The brilliant Farrer sprinted in for his hat-trick that Emanuelli goaled.
They carried on attacking and were again rewarded with a try. Matt Wilcox was next over the line after a good passing move and Emanuelli was again perfect with the boot.
And for the second week in a row, the Scorpions missed out on a bonus point after conceding a late try. This time it was Alex Thompson who made a strong run that the Welsh defence couldn’t cope with. Connick converted to put the icing on the cake for a hard worked win for Oxford.