Bicester welcomed Reading Abbey B for the first game of the season looking to see how the new squad would combine and work together. A hard fought match where the difference in scoreline did not reflect the effort put in, but showed that there are areas to work on.
Bicester started well with good intensity at the rucks but Abbey were quick to stop any potential moves. Bicester competed well at the scrums against the much bigger Abbey pack but struggled to dominate in the lineouts. Abbey began to make progress into the Bicester half when Adam took the ball in his own 22 and made a scintillating break up to the Abbey 22 where the final pass just went forward in the tackle with the line beckoning. Abbey came back and made a break through the middle for the first score 0 – 7. Bicester defence was sound with the whole team putting in the tackles but after more pressure from Bicester Abbey returned with a try in the corner 0 – 14. Abbey were now slightly on top and after a series of good offloads they scored again in the opposite corner 0 – 21. Bicester upped their game and put pressure on Abbey knocking them back in the tackle but a good line by an Abbey runner saw them through to score 0 – 28. Bicester kept playing looking for the vital breakthrough and when Abbey tried to break out of defence good anticipation by Andy allowed him to intercept and run through for the first Bicester score 5 – 28 to end the first half.
The second half saw more of the same with Abbey pressing but good Bicester defence keeping them at bay. Bicester were struggling to get clean ball for their backs and so a fairly scrappy period of play ensued. From a Bicester scrum the ball squirted out and with a fortunate bounce Abbey were able to capitalise and run through to score 5 – 35. Bicester now began to drive forward with a series of pick and goes made progress into the Abbey half but a loose ball was kicked through by Abbey and the ball bounced up nicely for the chaser who managed to off load in the tackle to his support to score 5 – 42. Again Bicester kept their heads up and started driving into Abbey and a period of good pressure ended with an Abbey 22 drop out. The ball was caught well and spun down the line to Andy who with excellent feet both beat the defenders and stayed away from the touchline to score a really good counter attacking try 10 – 42. The bigger Abbey pack was now beginning to take its toll on Bicester and from a scrum the Abbey No.8 picked up to go over for the final score 10 – 47. Bicester never gave up and finished the game strongly putting in some great moves with real determination until with the final play they were forced into touch just 5 metres from the Abbey line.
For the first game with a new squad there were encouraging signs and with a slightly more organised defensive line the score could have been closer. Man of the Match: Herbie for his effort in both tight and loose play. Squad of Callum H, Joe, Garin, Kyle, Herbie, Will T, Ashley, Dan B, Lewis W, Ollie, Will H, Cameron, Callum M, Mark, Andy, Louis, George, Michael, Adam.