OXFORDSHIRE bolstered their Twickenham bid when convincingly beating North Midlands 43-8 at home in the Bill Beaumont County Championship.

Tries from Sam Portland, Adam Neal, Will Janes, Finn Pietersen, Tom Emery, Tommy Gray and George Primett earned a commanding bonus-point victory at Horspath Sports Park.

It helped Oxon overtake Cumbria at the top of Pool 1 on points difference and sets up a shoot-out between the sides in Wigton, near Carlisle, on Saturday for a place in the Division 3 final at the home of English rugby.

With head coach Matt Goode away, coaches Liam Gilbert and Jamie Lakin took charge.

Oxon were slow out of the blocks and North Midlands took the lead through Sam Vaughan’s penalty.

But the hosts overcame the opening ten minutes and went on to dominate.

Winger Portland crossed in the corner, scrum-half Leo Webb converting, to put Oxon 7-3 ahead.

Vaughan missed a penalty to reduce the deficit for the visitors and Oxon opened up a 19-3 lead at the break.

Second-row Neal crashed over for their second try, before centre Janes ran through to score under the posts, Webb converting the second for a 16-point advantage.

North Midlands had a physically bigger pack, but Oxon were better in the scrum and their backs were far more dangerous.

They continued to control proceedings in the second half, scoring four more tries.

Fly-half Pietersen stretched over for the bonus point, with Webb’s conversion attempt coming back off an upright.

Oxon then made it 31-3 when sustained pressure led to hooker Emery spinning and scoring against the post, Pietersen adding the extras.

Full-back Gray, who had played a key role in two of the home side’s tries, then got in on the act, weaving through to dive over for an unconverted try out wide.

The visitors grabbed a consolation score when Mitch McGahan crossed.

But there was still time for Oxon’s seventh and final try, when prop Primett drove over from close range and Pietersen converted with the final kick of the game.