Date: Sunday 12th April
Venue: Iffey Road, Oxford
Oxford were mauled by the Bears last time out whilst the Knights collapsed in the second half at Keighley so who will get off the mark this Sunday in Oxfordshire?
Last Time Out
Coventry’s first home game at semi-professional level saw a healthy crowd in attendance as they comfortably defeated Oxford.
The Bears came firing out the traps with four tries in the opening twenty minutes through Billy Sheen, Matt Cooper, Eddie Medforth and Josh Guzdek. Oxford did grab the next two scores but a try from Troy Brophy and a second from Medforth on the hooter wrapped up the two points.
A flawless second half was the catalyst for victory as the Cougars defeated the troubled York City Knights at Cougar Park.
Despite leading at the break through tries from the halves Pat Smith and Jonny Presley, tries from Josh Lynam, Rikki Sheriffe and Scott Law saw Keighley run out 28-12 victors and keep the Knights pointless in the second half.
Oxford Coach Tim Rumford appears to have no fresh injury concerns for the visit of the Knights with long term absentee Harry Swailes the only member of the ‘Blue Army’ who looks set to miss out.
York City Knights will once again be without speedy winger Jamel Chisholm whilst Colton Roche also looks set to miss out after picking up an injury at Keighley last week. Harry Carter and Ryan Mallinder should both return though for James Ford.
The back rows will be crucial in this encounter. The Knights have the returning Ryan Mallinder to add to the second row pairing of Ed Smith and Josh Tonks. The experience of these three should prove too much for a fragile Oxford defence.
What The Coaches Say
Oxford Coach Tim Rumford: “It’s not a reflection on the way we’ve prepared, our players simply haven’t approached the game with the correct attitude.
“The honeymoon period is over, we’ll be looking to bring in some players. But it happens at this level, we’re not going to cast anyone aside but it’s important we realise as a club and as individuals where we are. Having a wake-up call early on certainly won’t do us any harm.
“The game against York is going to be really tough, but it’s a great challenge. It’s our first home game of the season and there’s lots of interest around the game locally and we need to step up. We need to starting rising to these challenges. Hopefully we’ll have two or three new faces in for the weekend and hopefully that will make us competitive.
“If we can be competitive in the closing stages of the game then it will give us a chance of taking the points – that’s what we’re looking for.”
York City Knights Coach James Ford: “Given the amount of possession they had I was pretty impressed with our defensive stuff and I thought we showed a lot of character to be in the game.
“Obviously there are one or two areas we want to improve on but we knew that coming into the season. We’ve got a young squad and it was never going to be about game one for us it’s about game 21 and beyond that. The only way these players are going to get experience and improve is by playing, making mistakes and having the opportunity to learn from it.
“Oxford is an opportunity for us to take a step forward. I imagine there will be quite a lot of passion in the game. We’ll be working on one or two things that didn’t help us too much against Keighley and I’ll be hoping the players take another step forward.”
Oxford appear to be on a hiding to nothing whilst York’s off field problems are starting to reflect on the performances on the pitch, however, the Knights should run out comfortable winners in this one – York by 34.