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Oxford Saints 21 -13 Bournemouth Bobcats
The Oxford Saints went 5-0 Sunday after a second victory in two weeks over the Bournemouth Bobcats. After last weeks 8-0 triumph the Saints turned up the heat in the Oxfordshire sunshine and ran out 21-13 winners.
Head Coach Andrew Day had demanded a much more disciplined offensive performance after last week’s error strewn effort and he was not disappointed. Xander Morgan enjoyed a breakout game for the Saints, leading the team with 72 yards on the ground, and he enjoyed consistently excellent support from Chris Ellis, Michael Oluwole and James Ferrigno. But the star of the show for the back on track offense was tight end James Walter.
The first year Saint and OBU veteran reeled in 6 catches on his way to an MVP performance, including 2 more touchdowns, doubling his tally for the season, and helped to kill off the game late on with a crucial one handed grab for a first down.
After a slow start, the Saints probing the Bobcats impressive defence and the Oxford D, led by linebacker Chris Ellis, continuing their dominance, it was Callum Wright’s interception at the Bournemouth 40 that set up a short drive and Stephen Bentley rumble into the endzone from 8 yards out. With Spencer Duffy, standing in for the injured Jonny Dover, proving just as automatic as the regular kicker Oxford were up by 7 at the first quarters mid point.
The Bobcats weren’t down for long though as the entire Oxford defence stopped mid play expecting a false start flag that never came and tailback Dale Powell ran a slightly bemused 38 yards into the endzone. Despite the ensuing controversy the Bobcats slotted the extra point and held on for a share of the half time spoils.
The second half started with a fireworks display that the first had been lacking, first the Saints rolled 62 yards down field behind the power running of Ellis and Morgan and capped it with a classic play action pass to a wide open Walter. At that point the Saints looked invincible and the Bobcats deflated. 30 seconds later Bobcats return man Toby Slade had sliced through the heart of the Saints kickoff team for an 82 yard TD and courtesy of a missed PAT Oxfords lead was down to 1.
After a solid return from Ben Saunders Josh Randall regathered his troops and set about capitalising on Oxfords good field position. Sensing a now or never moment to reassert their authority the young QB with his posse of thoroughbred backs moved into the red zone in a handful of plays, and again looked to Walter. The tight end brought the crowd to their feet with a leaping one handed catch in the endzone and the Saints lead was up to 8. A lead they would never look like surrendering.
Good fortune almost allowed the Saints to ice the game on the ensuing kickoff as the Bobcats return team elected to allow the ball to roll free on their 25 and the Oxford coverage, stung into action by their previous fallibility, pounced to recover possession. Just as it looked as if Walter would complete a deserved hat-trick or Sam Armstrong might add to his earlier big catch Johnny Brissendon dived in front of a Randall dart at the endzone to intercept the ball and give the Bobcats hope.
However, with the Oxford defence, in it’s usual miserly form, kept off the field for the entire 3rd quarter by it’s clock chewing offensive counterpart, the remainder of the game would see them concede a mere 20 yards and a single first down. The curtain was brought down on Bournemouth’s challenge when Lee Hutton finally collared QB Burns for a big sack and a couple of shots downfield fell incomplete.
All that was left was for Randall to guide his team downfield for the last 3 minutes and courtesy of one final circus catch on 3rd down by Walter this proved to be well within the Saints compass.
Now standing 2 games clear atop the South West conference of Division 2 the Saints have a practice week before facing off against the 3rd placed Cornish Sharks on Saturday 7th July at Abingdon RFC and while the coaching staff will see much to work on and polish before facing the Sharks, the Saints look to be finding their feet on both sides of the ball.
Published: 25-06-2012 by nw