Bicester travelled to Stratford looking to extend their winning streak against a side where recent games have been tight and hard fought. However in an uncharacteristic display where possession was given away cheaply Bicester although having opportunities came up short.
Bicester kicked off and immediately put Stratford under pressure. With a series of rucks retaining good possession Bicester worked their way down the pitch until the pressure told and Stratford gave away a penalty which Dan W kicked through the middle of the posts for the first points 0 – 3. Stratford came back and looked dangerous especially in their backs and they moved down to the Bicester line where stern defence held them up. A series of penalties were then conceded by Bicester to keep them under pressure and finally with a dummy Stratford were through the gap to score 7 – 3. Bicester were trying to play wide rugby but it was one of those days where the pass was not quite accurate or a simple knock-on disrupted their play and Bicester struggled to get any continuity. The lineouts were working well and the scrums solid but the good possession was being turned over by the small handling mistakes. Bicester then suffered a couple of injuries which meant a reshuffle of positions and Stratford took advantage to attack and run through the middle to score their second try 14 – 3. Bicester then held out until half-time where they could re-group.
The second half started with Stratford driving forward but again good Bicester defence held them up. Bicester won the ball and made a break before being stopped on the Stratford 22 where they were awarded a penalty which Dan W slotted over 14 – 6. Bicester now could see an opportunity and started driving forward in the rucks but again small errors when losing the ball in the tackle gave possession back to Stratford. With both sides looking to get on top the game went back and forth until Stratford found some room at a ruck to break blind and with the defence stretched the other way had a simple run in to score 21 – 6. Bicester now were getting a bit frantic as they tried to chase the game resulting in balls being thrown away hopefully rather than sticking to the gameplan. The Bicester forwards then settled down to some excellent drives and rucks giving Bicester the chance to pressure the Stratford line where they were held up several times by good solid Stratford defence. There was just time for one more attack and Bicester found some space for the ball to go out to Jimmy who still with some work to do finished expertly in the corner under pressure. There was just time for the conversion that just missed before the referee blew for full time 21 – 11.
A game where Bicester performed well in patches but were not up to their usual best with uncharacteristic handling errors making things difficult. The forwards showed up well with good rucking, good lineouts, good scrums, and good defence (mostly). The normal slick fast handling in the backs deserted itself for once. Man of the Match: Jimmy for his try, good running and defence. Squad of: Ed, Max, Garin, Callum, Jonny, Ashley, Harrison, Joey, Dan B, Adam, Cameron, Christian, Sam, Louis, Mark, Ieuan, Jimmy and Dan W.