In a rematch of last seasons Oxon Plate final Bicester welcomed Oxford Harlequins on a perfect day for running rugby and Bicester took full advantage to put on a display of total rugby that had the crowd purring! After the 2 minute silence in respect of Remembrance Day the teams went out onto the pitch to contest three 20 minute periods.
The first period began and it wasn’t long before Bicester got into the groove with a series of drives involving both the forwards and backs with excellent rucking releasing good ball and from one of these the ball was passed back inside for Alan to run through and over for the first score 5 – 0. Harlequins applied some pressure from the kick-off and took the play into the Bicester 22 only for some great counter rucking to secure the ball for Bicester who used their backs to spin the ball down the line for Lewis to show his speed to score with Max converting 12 – 0. Bicester again were first to the ball and with some great interplay took the ball up into the Harlequins half where Dan T was on hand to finish it off with a try 17 – 0. Bicester then went through a period of over complicating things and getting themselves isolated, but after stern words from the sidelines they got back to basics and winning a scrum against the head the ball was worked through the hands for Lewis to again go all the way on the outside to score with Max converting 24 -0 to finish the first period.
Changes were made for the second period and it took a few minutes for Bicester to find their rhythm again which allowed Harlequins some possession and pressure which they used to get their powerful winger into play who went round the outside for a certain try only for Tom C to dive full length and bring him down with a perfect tap tackle. This galvanised Bicester who put in some driving runs of their own led from the front by Josh which took play up to near the Harlequins line. From a lineout Bicester caught and drove before Alfie picked up from the base of the ruck to drive over from 2 metres out with James converting 31 – 0. Bicester were now in the zone again and from a lineout the ball was passed down the line to Mark who showed his pace to run in from 50 metres with the defenders floundering in his wake 36 – 0. The second period was brought to an end following a period of play where good hands, good rucking and good hands again saw Christian in to score with James converting 43 – 0.
The third period started with Bicester again going forward and with Harlequins on the back foot they gave away a penalty near their line. The ball was passed out to Max who broke back inside towards the forwards but continued himself to drive over to score 48 – 0. From the kick-off Alan called and caught the ball cleanly and set off on a charging run brushing past two tacklers to run all the way back to score which James again converted 55 – 0. At this stage Harlequins were doing well to keep going and trying to stop the Bicester drives but pressure led to another penalty which was quickly passed out to the Bicester backs for Lewis to get his hattrick 60 – 0. The forwards were now motoring and good rucking and driving took the ball close to the Harlequins line where Mark picked up and dived for the line to score 65 – 0. The backs were not far behind and with the ball won Max took advantage to make a break and outstrip the cover defence to score and convert his own try 72 – 0. With the kickoff not going 10 Bicester opted for a scrum on the halfway and with a set move the ball was spun blind to Rhys who took a direct line to run through and score wide out 77 – 0. There was just time for Bicester to again show their direct approach and with a solid scrum the ball was moved wide and another backs move again had Rhys in full flight just to be held up on the line but the forwards were soon there to recycle the ball for Dan T to have an easy pick up and touch down with James converting for the final score 84 – 0. Credit to Harlequins who never gave up and were trying until the final whistle.
The Bicester performance was one of speed and support throughout the game and the pleasing thing was the defence where Harlequins were not allowed to score. Well done to the whole squad of Josh, Alfie, Tom B, Dan T, Alan, Ashley, Cameron, Mark, Ieuan, Max, Lewis, Tom C, Cameron H, Benjamin, Rhys, Dan B, Drew, Alex, Harrison, Garin, Louis, James, Christian and Ethan.