West of England Plate Final Result
Southampton Spitfires 8 - 21 Oxford Cavaliers
The game started in warm sunshine at Chippenham RUFC and the Oxford team took full advantage. The Spitfires turned over the ball on their first set of six giving the Cavaliers excellent field position. From the resulting set of six the Oxford halves spun the ball wide finding their winger in space to cross for an easy score. With the conversion pulled wide the Oxford squad had a very early 4-0 lead.
From the restart the Spitfires gave the Cavaliers back to back penalties allowing them excellent field position. The Spitfires goal line defence which has been excellent all season was found wanting as Oxford Crashed over to score. With the conversion added the South Coast team were 10-0 down after only seven minutes.
At this point in the game the weather got worse and both teams found themselves using their forwards as the teams battled it out for field position. The Spitfires in this period looked good and the Cavaliers now started to make some errors. With the Spitfires looking to score they took the opportunity to spin the ball wide finding centre Reece Walters who showed good strength to cross the try line and score. The conversion was missed making the game 10-4 to the Cavaliers.
The game would continue to be a forward battle for the rest of the half, however the Spitfires looked to have scored a try on the 39th minute when winger Matt Blackman crossed after a set play was executed from the Spitfires. However the referee decided that a Spitfires decoy runner had obstructed the Oxford defence and the seemingly good try was struck off. As well as they Spitfires bad luck with the score the team had also picked up some injuries in the first half with Adam Broahurst sustaining a shoulder injury, Ben Knight picking up a head injury, Reece Walters a blood bin and stand off Tom Colling was to play no further part after picking up an ankle injury in the last set of the half.
HALF TIME SOUTHAMPTON 4 - 10 OXFORD CAVALIERS
The second arrived and the weather failed to improve turning the ball into a bar of soap. The Cavaliers played the condition better and seemed to make less errors compared to the Spitfires who dropped the ball in their own half time and time again. The pressure from the Cavaliers attack coupled with excellent field position allowed the Oxford hooker to take advantage on 46 minutes when he dummied and crossed. The conversion was added and the Spitfires were in trouble 16-4 down.
The Spitfires continued to make errors and turn the ball over and with the possession they did have they failed to break down a resolute Oxford defence. The Spitfires were then penalised again whilst in possession on the 55th minute and from the resulting set of six the Oxford hooker caught out some tired markers to score again. The conversion hit the post making it 20 - 4 to the Cavaliers.
Going into last quarter the Spitfires were now down to just 1 substitute as Prop Andy Dymott picked up a hamstring injury and been unable to return. Despite no more fit sub the Spitfires rallied and on the back of some hard defence the Spitfires worked the ball up field and Loose Forward Alex Hicken scored making it 20-8 and the Spitfires now had the chance to get back in the game.
With time running out the Cavaliers sensed a Spitfires comeback and decided to put the game to bed. They worked the ball down field and executed a set piece to score a drop goal. The lead of 21-8 meant the Spitfires would have to score three times which was just too much.
On the final whistle the Cavaliers celebrated whilst the Spitfires sunk to the sodden turf. The south coast team had given everything but it was not enough.
FULL TIME - SOUTHAMPTON SPITFIRES 8 - 21 OXFORD CAVALIERS
GAMEBREAKER - the Cavaliers drop goal on 75 minutes was enough to ensure the shield would be return to Oxford
Men of Match
Oxford Cavaliers - DOUG CHERNSIDE
Southampton Spitfires - MIKE MCGRATH