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Kings of Anglia Issue 9 Magazine Offer

Away day misery for Rhinos

PUBLISHED: 14:04 14 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:20 03 March 2010

RUGBY LEAGUE: IPSWICH Rhinos allowed a half-time lead to slip through their fingers to concede their first away league defeat of the season at Oxford Cavaliers.

The form going into this important fixture could not have been more contrasting, with the Rhinos enjoying a record conference win over St Albans and the Cavaliers enduring four consecutive defeats including a recent mauling by Cardiff.

IPSWICH Rhinos allowed a half-time lead to slip through their fingers to concede their first away league defeat of the season at Oxford Cavaliers.

The form going into this important fixture could not have been more contrasting, with the Rhinos enjoying a record conference win over St Albans and the Cavaliers enduring four consecutive defeats including a recent mauling by Cardiff.

However, after an error-strewn first 40 minutes Ipswich were just leading 6-8 at the break before both sides markedly upped their game to produce a tense absorbing finale as the Cavaliers gave Ipswich a lesson in ball retention.

A cagey opening period saw Oz Hicks miss a penalty before Pete Le Marquand opened the scoring with his penalty kick.

Oxford were the most positive coming forward and continued probing of the flanks led to an opening for Jim Holborn to sprint in and narrow the angle for Hicks to convert as well.

Ipswich were perhaps over-confident and this was manifested by their willingness to give up possession time after time early in the tackle count through knocks and overrun passes.

This could perhaps be owing to the absence of their inspirational coach Dave Mortimer who is away with the RAF!

Oxford had a hand in Ipswich's disruption too, spirited tackling keeping the Rhinos on the back foot.

Clear chances were few and far between for both sides and a first half war of attrition was fought out mainly in the centre of the field.

The game threatened to boil over when Brendan Cook was felled by a neck-high tackle by Rob Lawson but the Oxford man was sin-binned and the sides settled.

Scrum-half Richard Pollard put Ipswich ahead just before half-time when he cut his way through a tight Cavaliers defence.

Ipswich were then caught cold early in the second half with an early penalty converted by the reliable Hicks, before Holbourn made it a try in each half with an effort in the corner.

Hick's radar went awry when he missed both the conversion and a drop goal attempt soon after.

But with Oxford on the rampage Ipswich were powerless to prevent centre Simon Yarrow from crashing over in the corner to give the Cavaliers an eight-point lead.

With the minutes ticking away Ipswich regained their composure to advance a move through the tackle count.

Stand-off Mike Reeves finished off a slick handling move in style with a try which was converted by Pete Le Marquand to bring Ipswich to within two points with injury-time looming.

Ipswich mounted one last attempt to win the game, but with time running out a desperate kick forward was easily regathered by Oxford and they played out the tackles to earn a deserved victory.

Ipswich team: Paul Le Marquand, Benson Ho, Pete Le Marquand, Glyn Thomas, Gareth Edwards, Mike Reeves, Richard Pollard, Andy Wilson, Vaughan Evans, Julian Gray, Daren Henry, Adam Butterworth, Lee Haylock, Joe Francis, Shaun Griffin Brendan Cook and Francis Atkins

n Second rowers Harry Ackermann and Andy Windridge along with Lee Birch to reshape the back line are set to boost the Rhinos squad as they prepare for the East Anglian derby with Norfolk Saints at North Walsham on July 21, which has become a "four- pointer".

That follows their visit this afternoon to high-flying West London in another demanding away cross conference fixture.

The title race looks like going to the last kick of the season, when Ipswich are at home to Bedford Swifts on Saturday, August 4.

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