S.W.I EAST: GROVE 22 BICESTER 32
BY PAUL CHRISP
A thrilling end to end encounter at Cane Lane between 2 evenly matched sides, ended in a bonus point victory for visitors Bicester, thanks chiefly to their ability to move the ball at pace out wide on the flanks, where they were very well served by wingers Adam Hall on the left and 'man of the match' Christian Mann on the right. Mann began playing in his customary scrum-half position, but when centre Adam White was forced to retire with a dislocated shoulder 10 minutes from half-time, winger Peter Tarrega took his place and scrum half Mann switched to the right wing, with replacement Ollie Dawkins taking over at scrum half. Christian Mann revelled in his new role, scoring a hat-trick of tries on the right wing, with the equally quick Adam Hall adding a try on the left. Skipper and tight head prop George Withers crowned a fine all round effort with a first half try, and right at the end, when Bicester's lead was only 5 points, and Grove were threatening to equalise from a driven line-out, 2nd row Dan Spencer brilliantly picked off an attempted Grove pass, to romp a full 70 metres to the try line on the right, thereby securing a well deserved 5 match points win for his side.
From the kick off Bicester launched a raid down the right side, wheeling a Grove scrum on the right. However, Grove struck back and hooker Mike Wood stretched over for a try, which full back James Monks converted. 10 minutes later a powerful charge from a scrum by no.8 Wes Westaway earned Bicester a penalty, and following a clean take in the line-out by flanker Jack Horwood, the forwards set up the driving maul, from which prop George Withers busted across on the right for an unconverted try. The visitors fly-half Sam Richardson was then off target with a 40 metre penalty attempt, and Adam Hall was held up in the left corner, but as half time beckoned, centre Max Valevou charged down a Grove ball and Peter Tarrega quickly picked up to send Christian Mann racing over on the right to give Bicester a 3 point lead.
The second half opened with a slick handling move through the centre by Grove, resulting in flanker Jack Horrocks crossing under the posts for a try, which James Monks again converted. Straightaway Monks increased the Grove advantage to 7 points with a 20 metre penalty kick. Bicester replied instantly, as Charlie Bethell broke sharply, and Valevou combined with no.8 Wes Westaway to send Adam Hall racing clear to the try line on the left. Sam Richardson's conversion attempt was only just wide of the posts. Bicester regained the lead 16 minutes later, when Bethell kicked a penalty into touch on the left, 2nd row Will Thurlow took clean line-out ball, and a quick burst across the middle by prop Withers, was the prelude to a scintillating sprint down the right, to the corner, by Christian Mann, for an unconverted try. Next Mann latched onto a perfectly placed cross-field grubber kick, to scorch across to the right of the posts for his 3rd try, which this time was converted by Charlie Bethell, from in front of the posts. Immediately Grove reduced their arrears to 5 points, with a try by centre Tom Clipsman. Richardson was unsuccessful with a 35 metre penalty attempt, but Bicester supporters were soon to begin their celebrations following Dan Spencer's superb interception try in the right hand corner.
BICESTER 2ND'S 33 THATCHAM 2NDS 5 (TRIES: JAKE SAWYER, JASON SMITH, PHIL SALKELD, FRANCOIS WEISE, KIERAN HOLLIDAY. CONV: GEORGE UPTON 4)
BBO 4 NORTH: ABINGDON 2NDS 74 BICESTER 3RDS 7 (TRY: LIAM DUGGAN CONV: STUART JOHN)