Old Patesians rally in second half to see off Oxford Harlequins
Old Patesians 42
Oxford Harlequins 14
Old Patesians endured an unhappy and uncomfortable first half in this National League Three South West fixture but a rousing second-half performance and a hat-trick of tries for George Hughes saw them cruise to a bonus-points victory.
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Pats had the distinct advantage of playing down the Everest Road slope in the first period.
Despite domination in the scrum and lineout, they failed to secure and then retain the ball on a regular basis and Oxford Harlequins punished their poor execution.
Quins will be lucky to escape relegation this season but their spirited aggression gave Pats a severe test in the early exchanges.
Pats were first to score when centre Stu Taylor won turnover ball in a trademark clattering tackle on his opposite number and fellow centre Brett Turner banged over a penalty goal.
Pats' senior back-row resources have been diminished by two key players serving short-term bans, but number eight Henry Tapsell created carnage with his rumbling route-one charges and never failed to cross the gain line.
However, too often his barnstorming runs fizzled out when he became isolated.
Pats' scrum was rock solid with skipper James King back in the fold at loose-head prop and Joe Shelton returning at hooker.
The lineout was another polished feature of Pats' game with second row Nathan Riley picking off Shelton's throws with imperious majesty.
Turner added another penalty goal but still Pats failed to exploit their quality possession, with too many unforced errors when the ball was moved wide.
It was fortunate for Pats that Turner was in top form with the boot as his educated touch-finders kept them on the front foot.
Pats finished the half with a turnover scrum when they wheeled the Quins' feed and a pushover try dabbed down by Tapsell, converted by Turner, gave them a 13-0 lead at half-time.
The second half belonged to Pats with the metronomic authority of the Turner boot and the bullocking runs of Tapsell and team-mates driving Quins up the slope and into the red zone.
Non-stop pressure paid off with left wing Callum Kerr touching down in a corner.
A brief moment of complacency from Pats gave Quins the chance for a super try from skipper Harry Whittington, who scorched down the left-hand side touch line for a try converted by Will Hilton.
Both sides emptied their replacement benches and Pats served up a feat of running rugby.
Everything clicked for the home side with the backs relishing quick clean ball from the set pieces and at the breakdown.
Fly-half Matt Dean exploded into action with some delightfully weighted passes to his wingers and cheeky reverse flips to set up tries for full-back Hughes and scrum-half James Aherne and conversion for Turner.
Pats again lost concentration when flanker Kai Blankley was yellow carded for handling on the ground and Quins punished his indiscretion with a try for prop John Direen converted by Hilton.
Pats knew their were firmly in control, though, and again upped the tempo with two more tries for the mercurial Hughes to claim his hat-trick and another conversion from Turner to wrap up a comprehensive win.
Old Patesians: G Hughes, W Kane (L Taylor 52), S Taylor, B Turner, C Kerr, M Dean, J Aherne, J King, J Shelton (R White 66), C Thompson, N Riley, J Stickland, K Blankley, L Hughes (D Redbourne 52), H Tap.
Oxford Harlequins: H Whittington, H Jones, A Johnson, J Baird, W Straengh, W Hilton, J Cosins, P Boulton (S Chadbone 52), M Edney, J Direen, I Brown (W Clayton 52), M Forde, T Baker (R Farahani 52), S Bennet, O Rees.
Referee: Old Patesians centre Brett Turner