OXFORDSHIRE made a successful start to their County Championship campaign with a hard-earned 32-25 success over Buckinghamshire at Aylesbury.

A dominant forward display plus strong defence enabled Oxon to hang on to victory in their Bill Beaumont Division 3 opener.

After Ed Phillips’s penalty gave them an early lead, Oxfordshire paid for their indiscipline as George Lane and Pete Boulton were shown yellow cards.

Bucks took advantage of the extra numbers to build a 12-3 lead thanks to a try and a converted penalty try.

The visitors bounced back with tries from Banbury’s Cash Chilvers and Oxford Harlequins’ Ed Yeats, both converted by Phillips, to take a 17-15 interval lead, Bucks having added one penalty.

It was a yo-yo affair in the second half, with yellow cards – to Jack Robinson and Guy Fairburn – plus a huge penalty count against them holding Oxon back, even though they looked the more dangerous team with ball in hand.

Bucks twice took the lead, but a strong display from the Oxon pack set up tries for Boulton and Phillips, who added a conversion and penalty to put them 32-25 ahead.

With Oxon down to 14 men, Bucks camped on the visitors’ line for the last five minutes plus an additional eight minutes, during which 11 penalties were awarded.

However, the well-organised Oxon defence held out to secure victory.

Their next match is against Essex at Henley next Saturday.