Oxford aim to extend dream debut season
Oxford hooker John Clough believes the pressure will be off professional Rugby League’s newest club when they look to extend their inaugural season against Hemel Stags in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship One elimination play-off.
After a strong start to the season, Oxford suffered a mid-season slump, but secured their place in the play-offs thanks to a 30-30 draw against promotion-chasing London Skolars last weekend.
Clough said that their overachievement has taken some of the pressure off Oxford as they prepare to make the short journey to Hemel Hempstead.
“We didn’t expect anything in our first season; we were just looking to get established really, so we have no expectations coming into the play-offs,” said Clough
“We’ll take each game as it comes; every game is a bonus now.”
In playing fellow Championship One newcomers Hemel Stags, Clough hopes that the extra experience within Oxford’s team will be beneficial.
“It’s a new experience for both clubs, but we’ve got a few more players than they do who’ve been there before, so we’ll be looking to them to help us through,” said Clough.
“We know it’ll be a tight game, though. They’ve beaten us and we’ve beaten them, so this is the decider.”
Having not even existed a year ago, getting to the play-offs is beyond Oxford’s wildest dreams, according to their Chief Executive Tony Colquitt.
“At the beginning of the year you don’t know what to expect or what the standard of the competition is. It was all about being competitive and I think we’ve proved that we are just that,” said Colquitt.
“Getting into the play-offs exceeds our expectations and I’m delighted for a lot of people, mainly the players and coach Tony Benson, who has put a lot of hard work in. To finish above two established clubs in South Wales and Gateshead in our first ever season is an achievement.”
Tickets for the Kingstone Press Championship One elimination play-off, Hemel Stags v Oxford on Sunday September 7 at Pennine Way, Hemel Hempstead (3.00pm) cost £12 for adults, £6 for concessions (under-18s, Dacorum Card holders, over-60s) and £1 for under-16s.
The 2013 Kingstone Press Championships Finals Day at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday September 29 features a feast of first class Rugby League action with three matches kicking off with the Rugby League Conference Challenge Trophy Final, Leigh Miners v Wigan St Patricks (11.30am), followed by the Championship One Play-off Final (2.00pm) and Championship Grand Final (4.30pm). Tickets cost from just £15 for adults, £10 for concessions and can be purchased by visiting;www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk or by calling the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 856 1113.