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RUGBY UNION: Quins clinch mud wrestle
Oxford Harlequins 22, Maidenhead 10
THIS was as ugly a victory as you can imagine on a pudding of a pitch, but Oxford Harlequins will not be too bothered.
Only their second success of the National 3 South West season, over rock bottom Maidenhead, is not necessarily something to shout about.
However, Quins have played better and lost in recent weeks and this win may just give them hope of climbing to safety.
That is still 16 points away, but they now at least have a team capable of competing at this level.
Maidenhead got off to a great start, not giving Quins a sniff after earning a first-minute penalty.
A catch-and-drive effort saw them come up just short, but some quick hands sent full back Jonny Lamport scurrying over on five minutes, centre Mike Virgo converting.
The muddy conditions meant handling and just keeping your footing was pretty tough, but there was no excuse for both sides missing touch with successive penalties.
Quins full back Will Hilton had a strong game off the tee and got them on the board with a penalty after 14 minutes.
Lamport was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on five minutes later and Hilton made it 7-6.
Flanker Seisoni Tupou carried the ball 50 metres after gathering the restart, but Quins couldn’t take advantage.
The home scrum often struggled to control their own ball, while Hilton missed an attempt to take the lead.
But the full back landed his third penalty on the stroke of half-time after Tupou went close from the back of a scrum.
The second half produced little more in the way of entertainment, but two Hilton penalties put Quins 15-7 up by the hour mark.
Maidenhead suddenly found some attacking intent and Quins had Tupou sin-binned as they tried to stem the tide.
However, Maidenhead lacked the skill or vision to score more than a penalty from flanker Ryan Long on 68 minutes, although at 15-10 they were back in touch.
Quins finished the stronger, scoring their decisive try on 75 minutes.
Replacement flanker Sam Bennett, who had a useful game after coming off the bench early on, applied the finishing touch to a well-controlled catch-and-drive.
Hilton converted superbly from the touchline and his side were soon able to enjoy a morale-boosting win.
Oxford Harlequins: Hilton, Baird, H Whittington (capt), Johnstone (Halatokoua 67), Jones, Bourda, Cosins, Rees, Chadbone, Edney (Boulton 35-74), Direen, Brown, Forde (Rees 21), Farahani (Forde 62), Tupou, Rees (Bennett 19).
Referee: D Parrott (Gloucestershire).