Whitehaven 46 Oxford 14

Whitehaven cruised through to the fifth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup after establishing a clear-cut lead by half-time.

They produced their best rugby of the season in the first half to build a 30-4 lead and put the game beyond the visitors.

It was, perhaps, rather disappointing that the Cumbrians only shaded the second half 16-10 but there was never any suggestion that Oxford could change the outcome.

Whitehaven got off to a blistering start and were in front after only two minutes from their second set of the game.

Karl Olstrom saw the opportunity 30 yards out and sliced through the initial defence before going past the last man to score an opportunist try. Paul Crook converted.

It was all Whitehaven in the early stages and, on seven minutes, they doubled their lead. Marc Shackley was stopped on the line and when Carl Forster took over, a well-timed pass put Crook in for the second try which he converted.

They were close again when Crook hoisted a bomb on last tackle and with it bouncing invitingly, Scott McAvoy swept the ball to Jesse Joe Parker who was stopped right on the line.

Oxford started to show some signs of getting back into the game but on 17 minutes they suffered more trouble.

Attacking down the right, a pass out wide was intercepted by Parker and he raced over 50 yards to score the third try which Crook converted.

Whitehaven were looking good in possession and, after McAvoy had a pass go astray when they looked to be in again, it just seemed a question of time before they scored again.

In fact, it came from an Oxford attack when their kick on sixth tackle had gone dead.

Parker took the 20-metre tap and Craig Calvert turned back the clock with one of his special 80 yarders to score in the corner. Crook kicked a fine touchline conversion.

Oxford had only rarely showed as an attacking force but they got it together after 31 minutes when the ball was moved smartly across the backs for winger Curtis Macdonald to sweep in at the corner. Harvey Burnett failed with the conversion.

It was business as usual on 35 minutes. Kane Riley dropped a bomb from Crook and from the scrum, Parker burst through to score under the posts and give Crook his fifth conversion.

The 30-4 lead at the break was a fair reflection on how it had gone and it took only seven minutes for Whitehaven to increase their advantage on the restart.

Glenn Riley put in the strong run to establish position; Crook swept out a long pass for Chris Taylor to put in Jordan Burns at the corner. Crook missed out for the first time with the kick.

Three minutes later, Haven scored again. Steve Roper linked with James Tilley and he gave the final pass for James Newton to race over under the posts. Crook converted.

It looked as though the hosts would go on and get well beyond the half-century mark but Oxford, to their credit, responded bravely.

Oxford came back on 54 minutes to score their second try. Brad Moules had plenty of room to get in after Callum Windley picked up a kick through and fed the substitute. Burnett added the conversion from wide out.

Elliott Miller was held up on the line when Whitehaven responded and then Tommy Holland’s lovely delayed pass to release Parker was adjudged forward.

But it was Oxford who scored next on 67 minutes. The visitors made very good ground from their own 20 and from deep inside the Haven half, they spread the ball wide for Josh Atkinson to score an unconverted try in the corner.

Whitehaven appeared to have gone to sleep but they got back on the score sheet after 71 minutes when they moved the ball wide for Chris Taylor to step inside and touchdown. Crook converted.

Three minutes from the end Karl Olstom, who had been outstanding, and Oxford’s Marcus Brooker were sent to the sin-bin after a scuffle had got a bit tastier.

Haven: Miller, Burns, Parker, Taylor, Calvert, Roper, Crook, Shackley, Newton, Forster, Holliday, McAvoy, Olstrom. Subs (all used): Riley, Holland, Ackerley, Tilley.

Tries: Parker (2), Olstrom, Crook, Calvert, Burns, Newton, Taylor.

Goals: Crook 7/8

Oxford: Riley, Macdonald, Newbould, Burnett, Atkinson, Windley, Alexander, Joynt, Canterbury, Nicholon, Brooker, Cooke, Biscomb. Subs (all used): Moules, Wright, McRae, Siddons.

Tries: Macdonald, Windley, Atkinson. Goal: Burnett (1/3)

Referee: Tom Crashley

Crowd: 375

Star Man: Karl Olstrum