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.
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