RUGBY S.W.1 EAST BICESTER 12 SWINDON 16 BY PAUL CHRISP
In an evenly contested game, Bicester, playing uphill in the first session, looked to be on course for their 4th victory, as they turned round 9-7 ahead, having won the penalty count 8-3. However they had to be content with a losers’ bonus point, as 3 penalty goals from the boots of fly-half Adam Westall in the second half, were enough to secure a four point victory for the visitors. The Bicester forwards again performed admirably in both the set pieces and the loose play, and fly-half Christian Mann, alongside full-back Charlie Bethell, kicked with precision for territory and possession, but the hosts failed to penetrate a well organised Swindon defence. Second row Will Thurlow was Bicester’s man of the match for his excellent work in the line-outs, but the home side can thank the left boot of centre Dan Spencer, for earning them a bonus point, courtesy of 4 well struck penalty goals.
Bicester took the game straight to the visitors, from the kick off, driving strongly off 2 line outs, before Dan Spencer slotted over a 3rd penalty award close to the 22 line in the centre, after just 4 minutes play. Swindon replied with a converted try 21 minutes later when, after stealing Bicester’s line-out ball on the right, no.8 Wayne Lower ploughed across the line, and Adam Westall converted. Ten minutes elapsed before Bicester fought back with Dan Spencer’s second penalty goal, following some slick handling from a line-out, by backs Peter Tarrega, Max Valevou, and Christian Mann. Just prior to the break, powerful driving off a line-out by prop Alex Macdonald, combined with a quick break by Christian Mann, enabled Dan Spencer to record a hat-trick, by slotting over a kick from 16 metres out on the left.
Despite the loss of lock Ashley Taylor and hooker Harry Pollock to the sin-bin, on the stroke of half time, Swindon regained the lead 6 minutes into the second half when a knock-on by Bicester centre Valevou, gifted Westall a penalty goal from the 22 line. Immediately a 35 metre penalty attempt by Dan Spencer landed wide of the left post, but he quickly banged over his 4th kick of the match from 22 metres following a line-out infringement. Then, Swindon, with Pollock and Taylor now back on the field, regained the advantage once again, with a 20 metre penalty kick from Adam Westall, his 2nd of the match. A period of intense Bicester pressure inside the Swindon half followed, but it was all to no avail, and fifteen minutes from the final whistle, another Bicester knock-on presented Swindon fly-half Westall with his hat-trick of penalty goals, from a distance of 21 metres on the left side. Finally, a superb tackle by Bicester winger Shaun Reddish prevented an almost certain Swindon try on the left flank, and thereby ensured that his side gained their first league point since 7th October, when they defeated Marlow 18-17.
Sat 9th Dec:
Stratford-upon-Avon v Bicester (Away),
Bicester 2nd XV v Reading 2nd XV (Home)
Buckingham 3rd XV v Bicester 3rd XV (Away)