Oxfordshire ready to get Bill Beaumont Men's County Championship defence underway

Cornwall competing in the Bill Beaumont Senior Men's County Championship
Cornwall competing in the Bill Beaumont Senior Men's County Championship

Oxfordshire captain Rob Coe is challenging his side to improve as they get the defence of their Bill Beaumont Senior Men's County Championship Division 3 crown underway this weekend.

Oxfordshire will face Warwickshire in the only game in Division 3 Pool 1 this weekend and the first of their campaign so far.

Warwickshire can wrap up the Pool if they win this weekend having edged out Notts, Lincs & Derby 16-14 in a hard-fought encounter last time out.

Oxfordshire claimed Division 3 honours last year and Coe believes his side can carry that momentum into the new campaign.

"Everyone is just excited to get going really, I was part of the team last year that went all the way and won it," he said.

"I think we are fairly confident that we can go and do it again this year.

"From a personal perspective, winning last year motivated me all season to up my own personal standards and everyone wants to try and push themselves again.

"I think it is really on everyone's mind that it would be great to replicate last year."

Elsewhere, reigning champions Cornwall will aim to maintain their perfect start when they travel to Havant RFC to face Hampshire in Division 1 South.

Cornwall, who lifted their seventh piece of Bill Beaumont Cup silverware last summer, defeated Somerset 28-19 on the opening weekend and captain Fraser Honey hopes his side can show more composure during Round 2.

He said: “It was my first match back following injury and I did feel a little rusty.

"We made life hard for ourselves, we were lacking composure at times, trying to force the game which led to turnovers and then we compounded that on the penalty front.

“We will come together this week and look to put matters right and go into next Saturday’s match on the front foot."

Hampshire go into the match on the hunt for the first win of their campaign after falling to a narrow 20-15 defeat against Kent at Medway RFC last week.

Kent are second in the table on points difference after coming from behind to win late on, and now welcome Somerset.

Kent Director of Rugby Taff Gwilliam said: “We changed the dynamics at half-time, found a better kicking game, and narrowed the point of attack.

“With just one training session prior to the game, we looked a bit disjointed early on, but we grew throughout, with the combinations meshing together as the match progressed, and finished a much-improved unit.”

Yorkshire will hope to make it two wins from two in Division 1 North when they welcome Cheshire to Doncaster RFC.

They got their campaign off to the perfect start on the opening weekend, storming to a convincing 70-19 triumph over Hertfordshire at Harpenden RFC.

In contrast, last year’s runners-up Cheshire will be eager to bounce back from a 54-19 defeat at home to Lancashire in their opening game.

Only one point separated the two sides when they last met back in May 2019, with Cheshire walking away 21-20 victors, and another close contest is expected this time around.

Lancashire will look to keep up their momentum on when they face Hertfordshire at Hertford RFC.

The visitors are currently level on points with Yorkshire after their impressive result against Cheshire, while Hertfordshire will be looking to move off the bottom of the group.

The top two go head-to-head in Division 2 Pool 1, with Durham and Staffordshire evenly matched on five points after the first game.

Durham came out on top in an all north-east battle last weekend, beating Northumberland 30-12 at Hartlepool Rovers RFC.

Staffordshire were pushed all the way by Cumbria in a classic that finished 38-36 in the hosts’ favour at Burton upon Trent RFC.

Two losing bonus points mean Cumbria are above Northumberland in the table, but that could change this weekend with the two sides set to lock horns at Morpeth RFC.

Dorset & Wilts have the advantage in the Bill Beaumont Division 2 Pool 2 ahead of their second game against Devon at Royal Wootton Bassett RFC.

They recorded a bonus-point 47-15 victory over Gloucestershire in their opening game while Devon narrowly beat Berkshire 17-15 away from home to set up a crucial top-of-the-table clash, with a point separating the two sides at the summit.

Berkshire's losing bonus point leaves them third in Division 2 Pool 2 ahead of a trip to Gloucestershire.

In Division 2 Pool 3, there is a local derby on the cards when East Midlands welcome North Midlands to Oundle RFC.

The two sides are both undefeated in the Bill Beaumont Senior Men's County Championship after East Midlands beat Eastern Counties 61-29 and North Midlands beat Leicestershire 62-14 last time out.

The two sides yet to get off the mark, Leicestershire and Eastern Counties, meet at Shelford RFC.

Sussex welcome Buckinghamshire to Lewes RFC in the second round of fixtures in Division 3 Pool 2.

The hosts will be eager to make it two wins from two after their opening weekend 52-15 triumph over Surrey.

Buckinghamshire fell to a 29-17 defeat against Essex in their opening game and the victors have a chance to maintain pressure on Sussex and make it two from two when they travel to Esher RFC to face Surrey.

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