Eagles win at Oakham means play off at home
Oundle get five tries to secure a bonus point win at Fortress Oaks to grab the promotion play off place at home.
Oundle travelled to Leicestershire with a tough last game of the season at Oakham, who had not lost at home all season. The Oaks, had a large luncheon arranged to bolster support (kindly inviting Messers Denton, Dales & Gardner). The visitors arrived early to take in the atmosphere, but with one player caught in a traffic and Richard Jones
, pulling up in the warm up. Changes were afoot, Lee Osborne
, stepping up at tight head, and Gareth Jacob
starting at 12 with the late change from the bench. Toby Snelling
giving up his usual berth to take over at 10, with Craig Tandy getting injured in training. As it got closer to kick off, the crowd built with several car loads travelling from Northants across the border to hopefully witness another piece of Oundle history.
started the match with a perfect drop kick, an as usual the chase was good. Oundle regained possession as the home side failed to deal with it safely, Simon New
fed Joe Roberts
who cannon-balled his way up field. The home side though managed to swarm the breakdown and turnover the ball and clear their lines. Oakham were first on the scoresheet, as they used their forwards to create pressure, the Oundle defence though was resolute. But were adjudged not to have release in a tackle, and up stepped the Oakham ten to give them 3 points, much to the audible pleasure of the home crowd. The Eagles back row of Kachra, New and Shingles started to get the upper hand, and their power told, as territory was gained, and as the ball found its way into the hands of Shingles with his first bit of space, he burst clear and sprinted into the corner for the first try. Jaco Steenberg
, stepped up and slotted it with consummate ease from the touchline. Threats from all over came, when Oundle were on the attack, with centres Horne and Jacob a real handful to stop, creating gaps out wide. It looked like Shingles was on his way to adding a second try, as some great interplay gave Oundle another chance, the number 8, was stopped but he offloaded to Calum Gardner
who had tracked his run and the speedy winger went in under the posts. Steenberg duly adding two more. Oakham, were very competitive at the breakdown, but the Eagles were stronger. The home side needed all their resources to stop strong runs from Joe Roberts
, Dan Page
and Shingles. They strung phases together, and this was rewarded in an 8 minute spell with two penalties from the boot of Steenberg. Every time the home side managed to get some phases, the defence from Oundle was awesome. Saad Sait
, and Simon New
turning over several balls. With the half coming to a conclusion the visitors were looking to get a vital score. They predictably on winning a penalty kicked for the corner, and the forwards worked the lineout well, with a catch and drive. The result was Shingles powering over for his second try, carrying the defenders over the line with him. Steenberg slotting the conversion saw Oundle go into the break with a comfortable 3 - 27 lead.
Oakham though looked a fit side, and it was always going to be an 80 minute slog. No changes at the break, as Oundle turned to face the wind and the sun.
Oakham were first to score in the second half, their lively ten finding a break to weave through, Oundle did put in several covering tackles but the support was good and their 13 crashed over. Converted 27 - 10. Oundle then lost Joe Roberts
after a heavy collision, taken off to check out his shoulder. Richard Jones
coming on as cover at hooker. Oundle just over 10 minutes into the half, secured the vital bonus point. Again good interplay from the forward, retaining the ball and playing several phases in, Callum Gardner sidestepped his way round the last defender and scored in the corner. This time Steenberg was unlucky with the boot into the headwind.
Then as in most games, the opposition upped their game, and Oundle seemed to lose shape. And after a couple of errors the home side capitalised and scored two converted tries in 8 minutes. The home crowd baying for an upset, the advantage was now only 8 points. However the Eagles have shown during the season, they have learnt from the first game, and they regained the upper hand by playing it simple and defending hard. In the last quarter, Rob Shingles came close again. Bryn Jones
now on the field for Simon Andrew adding more pace to the pack, proving valuable in linking. Vernon Horne
looking for work in the midfield was a constant threat, and was stopped just short on two occasions. As the clock ticked down, Oakham were defending almost exclusively now, Horne made another bullocking run, and as he drew three defenders into the contact, he offloaded to Gardner who again rounded the last covering tackle and scored in the corner to complete his hat trick and seal the game. The conversion attempt from Steenberg, was unsuccessful but was the last action of the game. Victory 24 - 37.
It was an heroic effort, Oakham are an 80 minute side, and to close them out of the game was a tactical plus. Lee Osborne
playing 80 minutes at tight head typified the never say die attitude of this side. Preparations will now go ahead for the home play off at Occupation Road against Coalville and another cracking finish to the season for the Eagles