Returning to OBB League action Bicester hosted Reading Abbey in a real top of the table clash on a day where the wind and rain were going to play a part. Two good teams battled it out with the result in question right up until the final whistle. Given the conditions the rugby was of a high standard with both teams using their forwards but also looking to run the ball whenever possible.
With Bicester playing into a strong wind they knew the first half would be difficult and for the first twenty minutes they were camped in their own half soaking up the Abbey pressure. The first up defence from Bicester was exceptional and Abbey were driven back in the tackle time and time again. However Abbey had good ball retention and kept driving at Bicester but just could not get through. Bicester eventually got their hands on the ball and made progress into the Abbey half for the first time where they won a penalty on the Abbey 22. With a strong wind against the decision to kick for goal was questioned on the touchline but the ever reliable Dan W stepped up and struck a strong kick through the posts 3 – 0. Bicester now raised their game and submitted Abbey to a period of pressure and should have scored but for some poor decision making with the final ball. However the pressure told and another penalty was awarded in the same place and Dan W again took a well placed kick for Bicester to go 6 – 0 up with half time approaching. Bicester again made ground and against the run of play Abbey kicked through recovered the ball and went down the blind to score in the corner 6 – 5 and game on!
The second half started with Bicester using the wind to play in the Abbey half and really press them. From a scrum Cameron picked and fed Christian who saw a gap to speed through to score 11 – 5. But Abbey weren’t going to let this phase them and they came back at Bicester using their forwards to make progress into the Bicester half where they found a gap out wide to score in the corner 11 – 10. The conditions were getting worse and with the wind changing direction Bicester lost their advantage but still looked to run the ball and made ground until again the pressure told and Abbey were offside. With Dan W off the pitch it was Sam’s turn to step up and judging the wind well he slotted the kick over 14 – 10. Abbey came back and worked their way into the Bicester half and with a good driving maul looked to cross the line but determined defence by Bicester held them up just short and were able to get the ball into touch. From the lineout Abbey again used their forwards to maul the ball and then span it blind to the winger who brushed off a tackle to score in the corner 14 – 15. The clock was running down and Abbey were defending well until they were again offside, the penalty was just outside the 22 and into the wind that was now blowing across the pitch. Sam stepped up and judging it well kicked into the wind which at the last moment brought the ball round and through the posts 17 – 15. Bicester trying to play the percentage game took the ball down into the Abbey half where a loose ball was picked up by the fast Abbey winger who stretched the Bicester defences and looked likely to grab the winning score but Louis did just enough to force the winger to step into touch. Frantic Bicester defence held Abbey up and there was relief and jubilation when the final whistle sounded to keep Bicester’s unbeaten League record intact.
A huge game of rugby which was a credit to both teams as the score went one way and then the other played in an excellent spirit. Now Bicester are lined up for the final winner takes all league game at Windsor at the end of April. Man of the Match: Adam for his constant sniping at the opposition. Squad of: Max, Ed, Oscar, Garin, Callum, Ashley, Jonny, Joey, Adam, Dan B, Cameron, Christian, Dan W, Lewis, Sam, Mark, Louis, Michael, Ieuan