So the second league game took us to Banbury, the reigning County Champions, for another testing match where the boys showed that they can compete, but also that any mistake at this level is costly.
With perfect weather conditions for a day of running rugby the first half kicked off and within two minutes Bicester were 10 nil down, the first try a simple No.8 pick up and drive over and the second with Bicester ball lost in a ruck Banbury ran down the blind unopposed. At this stage the game could have gone two ways, a serious drubbing or the Bicester boys could step up to the mark. Luckily it was the second option that the boys chose and they dug deep to hold Banbury out and then to exert pressure themselves. The backs weren’t enjoying their best afternoon with balls being knocked on and passes not quite making the player but everyone covered and made sure that vital tackles were made. From a scrum well inside the Bicester half Mark picked up at No.8 and made a break that took him up to the Banbury 22 where desperate Banbury defence gave away a penalty. Rather than go for points Bicester elected to run the ball and for the last 10 minutes of the half Bicester were camped on the Banbury line but just unable to score. The halftime whistle blew with the score still at 0 – 10.
The second half again saw the forwards doing well at both scrum and line out but the backs could not quite break through the resolute Banbury defence. Banbury were first to a ruck and turned Bicester ball over which they whipped down the line to score 0 – 17. Bicester came back at Banbury and a break saw them make good ground just for a loose ball to be picked up and the Banbury flyhalf put in a telling kick into the corner for a lineout on the Bicester 5 metre. The line out was lost and sheer weight of the Banbury pack drove over to score 0 - 24. The end of the game was approaching and the efforts that the boys had put in began to tell. Banbury ran the ball down the line and their winger cleverly cut in and with a couple of side steps evaded the covering defence to score under the posts 0 – 31. Then Banbury kicked over the top and had the luck of the bounce to go straight into the advancing players arms to score wide out 0 – 36. Bicester never gave up and the game ended with Bicester making good progress with some excellent drives and offloads.
The whole team can be very proud that they stuck at it and never let their heads drop, again a scoreline not reflecting the actual play. There is still plenty to work on but also plenty that is good and that we can build on in our next games. Well done to the squad of Josh, Alfie, Tom B, Alan, Dan T, Ashley, Cameron D, Mark, Harrison, Oscar, Ieuan, Max, Lewis, BenL, Cameron H, Benjamin, Rhys, James and Christian.