COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD
ZAC Norris’s late try earned Oxfordshire a 29-26 victory over Dorset & Wilts at Witney RFC and sealed their progress into the semi-finals.
Oxon needed just a point to top Pool 3 and clinch a last-four spot, but they qualified with a 100 per cent record thanks to 14 unanswered points in the last ten minutes.
Head coach Craig Burrows’s side will now host Surrey in the semi-finals at Grove RFC on Saturday, with a Twickenham final on Sunday, June 1 at stake.
Oxfordshire started slowly and were always playing catch-up until replacement fly half Norris (Oxford Harlequins) forced his way over on 79 minutes.
Flanker Dave Wells (Grove) scored Oxon’s only try in the first half, while fly half Matt Clarke (Witney) finished off a good move in the second period.
Clarke converted his own try and added a penalty, but Dorset looked set for victory when they led 26-15.
A try from replacement scrum half Joe Chilvers (Grove) gave the hosts hope on 70 minutes, with Clarke converting.
And they had more to celebrate when Clarke, who had moved to centre, converted Norris’s winning try.
“It wasn’t very pretty, but we got it done,” said Burrows.
“Possibly some of the guys were a bit over confident and thought it would be a formality.
“In the first half, we just didn’t stick to the game plan and were looking to off-load too much.
“We gifted them field position and territory.
“The second half was a bit better, but certainly not as good as the performance against Berkshire.
“There is a lot we need to work on before Saturday.”
OXFORDSHIRE’S shirts this season are being sponsored by the Jim Douglas Memorial Fund.
The fund was set up in memory of the Harwell player, who died suddenly five years ago.
It was the family’s wish to support Oxfordshire rugby and put the fund’s logo on the shirts’ sleeves.
The county side facing Dorset contained three players Douglas had coached in youth rugby at Grove alongside his son Rob – Joe Bellinger, Tom Clipsham and Steve Dixey.
Latest Sport news
11:04pm Tuesday 13th October 2015
OXFORD University put in a battling display but fell to a 36-17 defeat to Aviva Premiership newcomers Worcester Warriors at Iffley Road tonight.
6:04pm Tuesday 13th October 2015
CALLUM O’Dowda played 90 minutes as Republic of Ireland Under 21s lost 1-0 to Italy in a Euro 2017 qualifier.
5:10pm Tuesday 13th October 2015
Patrick Hoban scored all three goals as Oxford United's development side won 3-1 at Aston Villa.
2:36pm Tuesday 13th October 2015
Oxford United defender Freddie Grant has been loaned out to Farnborough for a month.
2:47pm Tuesday 13th October 2015
Oxford United will be backed by a sold out away end for their Sky Bet League Two clash against Leyton Orient on Saturday.
9:30am Tuesday 13th October 2015
Oxford United have made their best start to a season since returning to the Football League in 2010 and Johnny Mullins believes the squad are better-equipped to last the distance than in their previous spell at the sharp end.
8:30am Tuesday 13th October 2015
JASON Plato missed out on the British Touring Car Championship crown by an agonising four points, despite winning the season climax at Brands Hatch.
8:00am Tuesday 13th October 2015
ALEX Lynn was unable to turn a strong start to weekend into a points haul during GP2’s visit to Russia.
7:50am Tuesday 13th October 2015
JACK Biggs scored a hat-trick as Oxford Hawks fought back three times to record an epic 4-3 win at home to Lewes in South League Premier Division 1 on Saturday.
7:50am Tuesday 13th October 2015
Didcot Town joint manager Ian Concannon greeted the news that his side will host either Brentwood Town or Hoddesdon Town in the fourth qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup as a great opportunity to progress.