Thursday, 13 August 2015

Saturday's Coming: Oxford. At... er... Hemel

Confused: Hornets' Dean Mignacca, playing for Oxford - at London Skolars.                                                     Picture courtesy of ‘Oxford Rugby League Inspires’: the official Facebook page of Oxford Rugby League.

The easily confused might do well to check their bearings before heading South to follow Hornets this weekend - as Hornets travel to take on Oxford. At Hemel. On a Saturday.

Last week Oxford came within 10 points of upsetting freeloading York, going down by just 36 points to 26 at coach Tim Rumford’s former ‘home’ at Heworth.

Having clawed themselves back from 30- 16 down, Oxford were only 4 points behind with  4 minutes to play - a late, late try from York’s Blagbrough giving the scoreline a thin veneer of respectability.

Having had a season of inconsistency (shipping 96 at home to Swinton, going to Barrow to only lose by two scores, beating the All Golds who, went on to beat Newcastle), Oxford remain enigmatic.

Currently parked 10th with five wins from 17 games and a points difference of -360. Needless to say their five wins have all come against ‘Southern’ opposition (against whom they have a ‘won 5 lost 3’ record) though their points difference remains in the red at -29.

Against the ‘heartland teams’ their record’s not great - though they’ve been nilled just once this term (by Oldham), scoring an average of 15 points per game. However, thet’ve shipped a whopping 460 points in the process - averaging a losing margin of 37 points.

But it’s not all doom and gloom at Iffley Road. Having ditched Tony Benson’s ‘Biffs on a Bus’ model from year one, Oxford’s squad looks like a development work in progress - shored up by a backbone of  experienced Northerners. Yes, there’s a thick seam of players from deepest Yorkshire from places like Methley, Milford, Heworth, Fryston  and Featherstone - but they’re augmented with players from Limerick, Antrim, Chinnor, Northampton, Southampton and Guildford (in Surrey, not Sydney). They’ve also borrowed Dean Mignacca from us. He won’t play on Saturday.

Having thumped the Blues by 76-16 earlier in the season, Hornets will be looking for much the same outcome on a weekend when North Wales host Swinton, Keighley play Barrow and Oldham travel to Newcastle (needless to say, York get a free-swing at Skolars as they continue their jaunt through the bottom six).

As if the trip on Saturday wasn’t confusing enough, we have two sets of directions for Pennine Way at Hemel - one from their website and one from AA Routefinder. Both look to work for us - leaving the M1 at Junction 9 is our favored option: gets you off the motorway sooner and cuts through some rolling farmland, rather than negotiating a tricksy route through Hemel.

We’re leaving early doors and making a day of it - so why not stick a few mates in the car and come and make a bit of noise. Flags recommended. See you down there.

Finding Pennine Way, Hemel

Postcode HP2 5UD

Directions A
Take J9 from M1 - follow A5183 and B487
- At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Dunstable Rd/A5183
- Continue to follow A5183
- At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit and stay on A5183
- At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto B487
- At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Redbourn Rd/A4147
- Turn right onto Pennine Way at Palmers Peugeot/Alfa Romeo

Directions B
Leave the M1 at J8
- Continue into Hemel Hempstead on the A414
- At the second roundabout take the 3rd exit onto the A4147
- At the next roundabout take the 1st exit to continue onto the A4147
- At the next roundabout take the 3rd exit onto Redbourn Road
- Take the first left (after about 300 metres) onto Pennine Way