Oxfordshire 29, Sussex 29 (Oxon win on tries scored)

OXFORDSHIRE made it third time lucky as they beat Sussex in a gripping final at Twickenham.

Ed Bowden's last-minute breakaway try for the south-east outfit saw the County Championship Plate clash finish 29-29.

But Oxon were celebrating at the final whistle by nature of scoring five tries to Sussex's four.

It was a fittingly dramatic finish to a rollercoaster campaign after Craig Burrows' side had to rely on another result last week to reach Twickenham.

However, the victory puts to bed their defeats in 2003 and 2006 as Oxon recorded their first triumph at the national stadium.

First half tries from Jack Robinson and Sam Stoop put Oxon 12-3 in front at the break.

But a fast-start to the second half saw Sussex haul their way into the lead.

Oxon responded brilliantly, though, as George Lane, David Hyde and Mike Martin crossed to put them in sight of an historic victory.

But drama ensued in the final ten minutes as Hyde was sin-binned, before Sussex went over twice to level the match and force the result to be decided on tries scored.

Carles Casanova's penalty gave Sussex an early lead, but Oxon were quick to respond.

Centre Martin brilliantly found Robinson out wide and the winger stormed over on nine minutes.

Chinnor full back Roddy Giles was unable to convert from the touchline.

Both teams looked evenly matched up front, but Craig Burrows' side posed a threat when working the ball through the backs.

The majority of the first half was competed in the middle of the pitch, with Oxon more than matching Sussex's heavy pack.

Both sides were guilty of giving away too many penalties, but neither could make the most of any territorial advantage gained.

Oxon ended the half on top, though, and their game plan to exploit space out wide paid off on 39 minutes.

With Sussex sucked in, Banbury centre Matt Goode found himself in plenty of room and he drove on before offloading to fly half Sam Stoop to score.

Giles converted to put Oxfordshire into a 12-3 lead at half-time.

Sussex made a first start to the second half and immediately cut the deficit to four points when full back Max Morris squeezed over for an unconverted try.

Oxon were all of a sudden up against it and conceded again after losing a line-out against the head on their five-metre line.

Sussex put phase after phase together, before hooker Will Gearing-Grief took a quick tap penalty and drove over. Casanova converted to make it 15-12 on 45 minutes.

Oxon responded brilliantly and only a last-ditch tackle from Morris denied Robinson.

They were not behind for long and after being camped on Sussex's five-metre line, Henley flanker Lane dived over in the 53rd minute.

Giles' conversion attempt struck a post as he could not stretch the lead beyond two points.

The full back then missed a penalty, but it was all Oxon and on 61 minutes they made their pressure count again as No8 Hyde drove over to make it 22-15.

Scrum half Ed Phillips took over the kicking duties, but his attempt sailed just wide.

It was all Oxfordshire and they looked to have all but made the game safe on 70 minutes when Hyde brilliantly brushed off two tackles and offloaded to Grove's Martin, who cruised over unopposed.

Giles crucially added the extras to put Oxon 14 points in front.

But the last five minutes proved a nervy affair as Hyde was sin-binned and Sussex captain Ryan Morlen dived over for an converted try to reduce the deficit to seven points.

The drama did not stop there as Bowden raced over on 80 minutes and Casanova converted to end the game 29-29.

But Oxon were the team celebrating, having scored one try more than their opponents.

Oxfordshire: Giles (Chinnor), Robinson (Ox Harlequins), Goode (Banbury), Martin (Grove), Yeats (Ox Harlequins), Stoop, E Phillips (both Banbury), Primett (Henley), Sarr (Banbury), Boulton, Purchase, Neal (all Ox Harlequins), Jeffreys (Wallingford), Lane, Hyde (both Henley).

Reps: Stock (Chinnor), C Chilvers (Banbury), Bellinger (Grove), J Chilvers (Grove), Burn (Henley), Fairburn (Ox Harlequins), Nicholl (Grove).