Kingstone Press League 1 Preview: Oxford v Coventry Bears

Despite Oxford’s 36-12 defeat to North Wales Crusaders, coach Tim Rumford was pleased with his side’s performance.

“It was probably one of the best 40 minutes we’ve put in over the season in the second half,” he said.

“For large periods of the first half we went toe to toe with a really good North Wales side with a few big names. I think one or two of our lads felt a bit privileged to be on the same field as Kevin Penny and Stephen Wild but once we came to terms with that and got on with our job we looked pretty competitive.

“The pleasing thing was we only had one dual-reg player in there. A lot of local boys, who have been with us for some time, are really progressing. After the heavy defeat to Oldham the week before, to come back and have a real dig against North Wales says a lot for their character.

“It helps to propel us forward into what is going to be a big game against Coventry. They beat us in that first game of the season. We started really slowly on a really wet, horrible day and it was a bit of a battle of attrition. I’m hoping this week we get a nice dry day at Iffley Road and we can serve up an entertaining game of rugby.”

Loose forward Jamie Milburn is a doubt with a shoulder injury while centre Josh Nathaniel has a hamstring problem.

Looking back on Coventry Bears’ 42-14 win at South Wales Scorpions, coach Tom Tsang said: “It was a good result in the end. It wasn’t the tidiest of performances but we did enough to get the win.

“We played some decent stuff throughout the game but got a little bit scrappy at times. It was good to bounce back from the week before.

Oxford will be looking to get one back on us from the first game of the season and we obviously want to keep on track from last week. So far, every time we’ve won a game we haven’t managed to back it up the following week so we’re looking to win two on the bounce for the first time this season.

“We’re all looking forward to it. We’ve got a little bit of confidence coming in from the win and thankfully we didn’t pick up any injuries against South Wales.”

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