- Division Three final comes down to number of tries scored after tense draw
- The match finished 29-29 between Oxfordshire and Sussex
Oxfordshire were named Division Three winners in the Bill Beaumont County Championship after a tense 29-29 draw against Sussex at Twickenham.
With the score level after 80 minutes, Oxfordshire were named champions having scored five tries - one more than Sussex.
Oxfordshire led 12-3 at half-time thanks to tries from Roddy Giles and Sam Stoop. Three more tries from Oxfordshire in the second half gave them a 29-15 lead with five minutes remaining in the match and they looked like guaranteed winners.
However a thrilling final few minutes saw Sussex score two tries including one from Ed Bowden in the final play of the game to bring the scores level at the final whistle.
Oxfordshire's superior try count meant they were awarded the trophy.
Sussex took an early lead after winning a penalty at the scrum after just three minutes, fly half Carles Casanova stepped up to slot the kick.
Both teams struggled to find their rhythm in the early exchanges but Oxfordshire had much of the territory and soon capitalised when centre Mike Martin's crossfield kick found winger Jack Robinson.
Robinson did well to fend off his opposite man and showed impressive speed to finish in the corner to make it 5-3 after 12 minutes.
It looked likely to stay at that score going into the break with both sides struggling to break down each other's defensive lines. But just a minute before half time Oxfordshire centre Matt Goode carved through Oxfordshire's defence before offloading to Sam Stoop. Roddy Giles converted to make it 12-3 at half time.
Sussex made the perfect start to the second half when a speculative kick forward from Jamie Diggle fell into the hands of Maxx Morris to touch down in the corner. Casanova missed the subsequent conversion.
It was all Sussex for the next 10 minutes and when they were awarded a penalty just metres from Oxfordshire’s try line, hooker Will Gearing-Grief took a quick tap and bulldozed his way over.
Casanova added the extras to give his side the lead for the first time with Sussex leading 15-12.
Oxfordshire almost responded immediately through try-scorer Robinson who beat two Sussex players and was inches away from scoring but was held up.
Oxfordshire kept on coming and went ahead once again when flanker George Lane powered through one tackle and then stretched over the line to score. The conversion attempt hit the post making the score at 17-15.
Oxfordshire continued to pile on the pressure, relentlessly attacking Sussex on their line until David Hyde was awarded a try after some consultation between the referee and assistant. The extras weren’t added leaving the score 22-15 with 15 minutes remaining.
With victory in sight for Oxfordshire, they continued to attack and made use of an overlap to put centre Martin through. Giles converted to make it 29-15.
But Sussex weren’t done yet. A yellow card for Oxfordshire’s Hyde gave Sussex the extra man and they took full advantage. After spreading the ball wide, captain Ryan Morlen beat two defenders to score under the posts and Casanova nailed the conversion to bring the score to 29-22 with only five minutes remaining.
With the clock counting down Sussex mounted an extraordinary comeback, starting on their own try line. They worked their way up the pitch, going through the phases before releasing number eight Ed Bowden who scored under the posts.
Casanova converted to make it 29-29 at the final whistle but the title was Oxfordshire's thanks to their superior try count.