It's been a pretty crap July for Oxford. Kicking off the month with a 20-18 home defeat to competition whipping boys University of Gloucestershire All Golds (nilled in the second half of this one), they then got spanked 22-4 by their alter-egos Oldham in revenge for their shock win at Whitebank eary in the season. That was followed by a scrambling, last-ditch 14-all draw at Gateshead that saw Jonny Leather forced out of the game and onto the treatment table alongside fellow strike player Lucas Onyango. Both players are reported as doubtful for Sunday's debut at Spotland.
|The Dreaming Spires of Oxford|
After the game, Oxford captain Alex Thompson identified where Oxford had been found-out: "Their half back kicked us to death and kicked 3 forty twenty opportunities which put them on the front foot and relieved the pressure on them as they couldn’t get out of their half at times. I felt we weren’t clinical enough when we had the ball and didn’t take our opportunities when they came along which would have pulled us away in what ended up a really tight match.”
Specialism in the anomaly that is the bonus point sees Oxford tucked in at 4th place, two places above Hornets - having played a game more and having lost a game more. Indeed, it does make you question a points system where four defeats carry a greater return than one win. But as we're stuck with it, it's up to Hornets to not only beat Oxford, but also deny them their almost statutory 'loser's point'. (indeed, if you really want to see how the BP distorts things, go take a look at the KP Championship, where Hunslet have four wins and NINE bonus points - effectively nine losses the equivalent of three more wins!).
Without descending (too far) into a bitch about the bonus point, a team in that division could lose every game and get 26 points, whereas a team could win five games and get beaten by 13 points in all of the others for 25 points - AND GET RELEGATED ahead of a team that can't win. Now tell me it's not crazy. Go on…
Meanwhile, back in the real world, Hornets have five home games in which to salvage a season that has seen a 2,000 mile roadtrip result in some less than convincing performances.
Whilst defeat at Big Spending North Wales Crusaders™ might've been anticipated, defeats at London Skolars and at Hemel have left us chasing a home draw in the playoffs. With 15 points to play for - and the spectre of the bonus point liable to play a deciding role on final places - it's time to gird our loins, get a grip and take care of business with no complacency.
So, after almost 9 weeks away from Spotland, let's get behind the lads and see this thing through together.