Following a break due to the weather and cancellations Bicester returned to action against a Grove side who they had narrowly beaten earlier in the season. On a small muddy pitch it was a forwards game battering up the middle where the defences on both sides showed what they were made of. With Grove dominating the first quarter the game swung round finishing with Bicester on top and going for the win but finally there was nothing to separate the two sides.
The first half soon showed how Grove wanted to play as they used their big forwards to drive up the middle and with good ball retention were really asking questions of the Bicester defence. But Bicester were there to knock them back and it looked as though there was no way through. However the constant pressure began to tell and Bicester started to infringe at the breakdown with repeated side entry at the ruck. This allowed Grove to work their way down to the Bicester line and finally find a gap to go over in the corner 5 – 0. Bicester tried to re-group and stop the penalties which allowed Grove more time at the breakdown as they repeated the simple driving gameplan and continued to camp out in the Bicester half. A relieving kick by Bicester was fielded by the Grove fullback who ran sideways across the pitch before finding an angle for Bicester to wave him through their defence for a very soft try 12 – 0. This galvanised Bicester who now gained a foothold in Grove territory and finished the first half pounding the Grove line with a series of bludgeoning runs from Max falling just short.
Bicester started the second half how they ended the first going at Grove and driving the ball on, and now it was Grove’s turn under pressure to give a series of penalties away. Bicester worked hard and looked to move the ball wide but the blitz defence of the Grove midfield made it difficult. Bicester worked their way down to the Grove line where the clearing kick was charged down by Ed who followed up to just get his hand to the ball to score 12 – 5. Bicester were now sensing that they were on top and any ball that Grove had they drove back and with both sides battering into each other the tension became too much for the crowd who became a little frisky. But credit to both sides on the pitch they never lost concentration and it was Bicester who made the breakthrough ending with Dan W stepping inside his man to go over wide out. Dan W then stepped up and slotted an excellent conversion from a very difficult position to tie the scores 12 – 12. Grove had one last effort in them but Bicester repelled them and in a series of drives moved down the pitch where Grove gave away a penalty and 10 yards directly in front of the posts. Dan W stepped up but the muddy conditions in the centre of the pitch were of no help as he slipped the ball just wide for the end of the game.
Overall a fair result with Grove on top in the first half and Bicester dominating the second half. The defences were excellent with big hits going in, special mention for Jimmy’s. Very pleasing was Bicester’s adjustment to the referee after initial penalties given away and their patience and belief that their game would come together. Man of the Match: Dan B for his all-round pitch performance. Squad of: Max, Ed, Oscar, Garin, Callum, Jonny, Harrison, Ashley, Joey, Dan B, Adam, Cameron, Christian, Dan W, Jimmy, Michael, Mark, Sam, Louis, Lewis, Ieuan