OXFORDSHIRE may be the defending champions, but head coach Craig Burrows believes his side will have a point to prove at Essex.

The side, who beat Buckinghamshire 76-27 six days ago, would book their place in the Division 3 final of the Bill Beaumont County Championship with victory at Harlow tomorrow.

But Oxon head into the Pool 1 clash against an Essex side, yet to play a game in the competition this year, who inflicted a 30-29 defeat on them 12 months ago.

It is a result the county are eager to put behind them and Burrows is under no illusions about the task ahead.

He said: “Ideally we will push on from last week and look for that little bit more, because we will need it – we anticipate Essex to be very strong.

“They beat us last year and most of the players remember that.

“We didn’t do ourselves justice and we feel we have a point to prove.”

Oxfordshire are hit by unavailability, with Ian Jeffreys, Connor Hull and Dan Brady out of the squad.

But Ian Isham, Ed Yeates and Matt Goode are handed starts, while Giles Saar will switch to the back row and Jack Robinson moves to wing.

Joe Bellinger, Jimmy Manley and Guy Fairburn have been added to the squad, while Freddie Cracknell is sidelined with a torn hamstring.

Burrows added: “Last Saturday was one of those days where everything we planned came off.

“It was perfect conditions for the style we wanted to play and our error count was very low – we simply blew them away.

“We’ve got a few unavoidable changes.

“Certainly players have got to get Saturday out of the way first, but they are competing for what could be spots for the final.”


Oxfordshire (v Essex, away): Gray, Robinson, Goode, Giles, Yeates, Stoop, Phillips, Isham, Emery, Manning, Purchase, Neal, Saar, Hall, Hyde. Reps: from Farahani, Witton, Chapman, Marshall, Todd, Bellinger, Fairburn, Manley.