OXFORDSHIRE won their preliminary round group in the Women's County Championships at Cokethorpe School, Witney, at the weekend - thanks to a dramatic finish.

Victories on Saturday over Devon and Herefordshire, and then on Sunday morning over Somerset left Oxon with a winner-takes-all last game against Gloucestershire, and it proved a thrilling affair.

Oxon went 3-1 up after ten minutes, with a fine individual effort from West Witney's Hayley Sawyer among the goals.

Gloucestershire fought back to level at 3-3, with tired legs starting to show from the home side. Oxfordshire kept taking the lead, only for it to be rapidly taken away from them, but an excellent final goal from a short corner, well finished by Clare Appleton, brought them a 5-4 win.

Oxfordshire now go on to on to the national finals in Exeter on May 31-June 1.

It was the fourth year in succession that Oxfordshire were hosting this preliminary round, and with fantastic weather, and the stunning backdrop of the school and its beautiful grounds, it proved a very enjoyable weekend for all those taking part and the spectators.

Oxon were made up of players from a wide range of clubs - Oxford Hawks, City of Oxford, Rover Oxford, Henley, West Witney, Old Loughtonians and Reading, and were coached by Dave Bridle and Kate Filochowski.

Their first match against Devon was a closely-fought affair, with Oxfordshire running out 4-2 winners, Hawks' Katie Merrick scoring a brace.

Their next opponents, Herefordshire, were a much older side who struggled in the scorching heat, and Oxon won that game easily, 5-1, but it wasn't always pretty hockey, as Oxon slumped to Herefordshire's level.

Oxon beat Somerset 4-2 thanks to two fine goals from Reading's Emily Malden.

Results: Oxon 4, Devon 2; Gloucs 4, Herefordshire 0; Somerset 2, Devon 1; Oxon 5, Herefordshire 1; Somerset 2, Gloucs 8; Herefordshire 1, Devon 1; Oxon 4, Somerset 2; Devon 2, Gloucs 0; Somerset 2, Herefordshire 1; Oxon 5, Gloucs 4.