Ryan Davis: try put Blues ahead
Newbury Blues 25 Oxford Harlequins 13
BLUES emerged from a second half scrap to remain hot on Salisbury’s heels in the chase for a South West One East play-off berth.
It was hardly way though, as the home side struggled to put away a Harlequins side that at one stage was down to 13 men and pocketed three yellow cards in total.
They also pocketed the game’s opening points when Pete Ralston claimed the touchdown after being driven over from the first serious lineout with Sam Watkinson converting, although the wake-up call worked as Blues soon responded.
A rapid move started by Andy Herriott was carried on by Toby Thorne before Josh Bartlett completed the score, and Blues began to punish the visitors’ errors and lack of discipline, and they soon added a second try when Dan Thorne’s dash towards the line saw him flip up the ball on the tackle with Ryan Davis taking it well to touch down with his skipper converting.
It looked as if Blues would take total control when Harlequins had second row Adam Neal sin-binned, with Richard Batson following before the break, although two Thorne penalties were little reward for Blues as they led 18-7 at the interval but failed to capitalise against the 13 men after the re-start.
Watkinson closed the gap with a penalty and added another 13 minutes from time to leave a score between the teams, and Blues threw away a couple of chances to impose themselves in attack and end any worries.
Dan Thorne missed a couple of kicks to add some comfort, but that was finally gained in stoppage time when Robbie Drysdale made space and Toby Thorne sent in Josh Love for a try that Dan Thorne’s conversion garnished.
Blues could not close the gap on Salisbury, who squeezed home 22-19 at relegation candidates Swanage and Wareham, while leaders Towcestrians crashed to Maidenhead.