Bicester travelled down the A34 to Tadley for their third league game of the season. Injuries and unavailability meant that a small squad of 17 made the trip but it was well worth it as Bicester put in a masterclass of patience and gameplan management to eventually get on top and then dominate a determined forward orientated Tadley side.
From the kick off and for the first 15 minutes it was Tadley who started positively and were driving forward through their forwards close to the breakdown, however Bicester’s excellent defensive work meant that there was no way through. After absorbing this early pressure Bicester started to make some headway themselves and it looked as though it was going to be a tight game as Tadley showed they could also defend close in. However the Bicester backs had other ideas as they looked to run the ball wide where Sam made a penetrating break before putting in a little chip kick into the Tadley 22 which was followed up and with Tadley trying to clear they were caught and driven back before the ball went loose over the Tadley line for Mark to pounce on it for the first try which Dan W converted 0 – 7. With the lineouts and scrums working well this week the Bicester backs were seeing more ball which they looked to run at every opportunity. Another line break by Bicester was only stopped by an infringement and from the resulting penalty Dan W shaped to kick for touch but instead took a tap and ran the ball, Bicester were held up on the Tadley line only for excellent ball presentation allowing Garin to pick up and dive over with Dan W converting 0 – 14. From the kick off Cameron caught the ball and made a break up the touchline Bicester produced some good ruck ball and spun the ball down the line to Lewis who rounded his man to score with Dan W converting 0 – 21 to end the first half.
The second half started much like the first with Tadley putting the pressure on Bicester who gave away a series of silly penalties to concede territory and from one of these Tadley drove over for their first score 5 – 21. This created a reaction from Bicester who upped their game and began to be first to the breakdown and started to win turnover ball allowing them to make progress into the Tadley half. Bicester were really competing well at the lineouts and in a perfect play the ball was caught by Joey passed down to Christian at scrum half and out to the backs where a planned move and slick handling gave Lewis the ball on an overlap for him to outstrip the cover to score in the corner 5 – 26. Whilst Tadley were still making things difficult up front the Bicester backs were now beginning to enjoy themselves and by putting real pressure defence in the midfield they forced a loose pass which Sam intercepted to run in from halfway with Dan W converting 5 – 33. There followed a period where the Bicester forwards and backs combined with some fantastic interplay of support and offloads making ground deep into the Tadley half. From a lineout the ball was caught cleanly allowing Bicester to put in a drive with the ball being recycled for Callum to power over for a try which Dan W converted 5 – 40. There was no time left for Bicester to add to this and the game ended with Bicester still looking to attack at every opportunity.
Whilst the score looked easy for Bicester in fact the Tadley forwards asked questions all afternoon and Bicester could not afford to relax. But the good defence especially around the fringes and superb handling and movement out wide proved to be the difference between the sides. Man of the Match: Joey for good lineout and around the pitch play. Squad of: Max, Ed, Garin, Callum, Ashley, Jonny, Joey, Dan B, Adam, Cameron, Christian, Dan W, Sam, Mark, Lewis, Louis and Ieuan.