RUGBY UNION: Oxfordshire must be on top of their game, says coach

8:00am Friday 23rd May 2014

By Ed Mezzetti

Oxfordshire will need to hit the heights against Surrey at Grove tomorrow if they are to secure a Twickenham final spot (3).

That ics the message from head coach Craig Burrows, who admits Shield holders Surrey are favourites for the semi-final clash.

“Most of their team will be from Dorking, won won the National 3 London title,” said Burrows.

“They are reigning champions and favourites.

“We have got to put in a performance along the lines we showed against Berkshire in our first match.

“Surrey have not been tested yet and we have got to make sure we test them from the start.”

Pete Boulton (Oxford Harlequins) replaces Martyn Walsh (Grove) at tight-head prop, while Rory Gratwohl starts ahead of Grove clubmate Richard Haire at No 8.

Flanker Cash Chilvers (Grove) returns after illness and Zac Norris (Oxford Harlequins) starts at fly half, with Henry Day (Grove) preferred to James Monks (Witney) at full back.

Burrows added: “It will be better for our players knowing that there is a really big challenge for them.

“They know they will have to be at the top of their game to compete.

“That will suit us better rather than going for one point or losing by less than 18 as we needed to against Dorset & Wilts to qualify.”

Burrows captained Oxon the last time they played at Twickenham – a 2006 Shield final defeat.

“It’s a huge incentive for us to get there,” he said.

“That’s one of the reasons why people want to play county rugby, but there is a lot of hard work to do before we can even start to think about that.

“There was a bit too much talk about that (Twickenham) before the game against Dorset, although we did try to stamp it out.”

The winners will play either Cumbria or Leicestershire in the final at Twickenham on Sunday, June 1.

Proud hosts Grove are planning a barbecue and an outside bar.

Oxfordshire: Day (Grove), J Mills (Banbury), Clarke (Witney), Bellinger, G Nicholl (both Grove), Norris (Oxford Harlequins), E Phillips (Banbury), Eckert (capt), Dixey (both Grove), Boulton, Purchase, Brown (both Oxford Harlequins), Wells, C Chivers, Gratwohl (all Grove). Reps from: Monks (Witney), Spencer (Bicester), Walsh, Haire, Carr, J Chilvers, Clipsham (all Grove).

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