Following the Christmas break a Bicester squad of 26 travelled to Buckingham to see what the New Year held in store. It was agreed to play three 20 minute periods to maximise game time for the large squad.
The first period started with Bicester as usual slowly out of the blocks letting Buckingham have some good possession but determined tackling held Buckingham at bay. This pressure resulted in Buckingham resorting to kicking and from one kick to the corner Bicester missed picking the ball up allowing the Buckingham winger to pounce for a simple try 0 – 5. This galvanised Bicester who for the rest of the period put pressure on the Buckingham line with their rucking being particularly impressive but desperate defence just holding Bicester up. However from a set of continuous drives by the forwards Josh was forced over to score 5 – 5 which is how the period ended with Bicester still pressing.
The second period saw wholescale changes made to the Bicester line up and good defence kept Buckingham out whilst Bicester struggled to get their hands on the ball. Unfortunately the Buckingham pressure finally told and a gap was found for them to go over 5 – 12. Bicester were now soaking up numerous attacks and making important tackles but could not get out of their own half, from a clearance kick the Buckingham fullback ran the ball back and with a series of offloads and good support Buckingham crashed over 5 – 17. Just as the period came to an end a Buckingham forward broke close to a ruck and ran through unopposed to score 5 – 24.
The third period saw more changes for Bicester who managed to get their hands on the ball to make inroads into the Buckingham half. A characteristic charge from Josh saw him unluckily deemed to be held up over the line. However from the resultant 5 metre scrum Cameron D picked up and slipped the ball inside to Dan B who drove over to score 10 – 24. Buckingham came back and the game went from end to end with the Buckingham winger nearly away a couple of times but for some last gasp tackles. Bicester showed what they could do and started dominating the rucks again to drive the ball on. Buckingham gained a penalty and kicked the ball through which should have been cleared but reminiscent of the first period Bicester failed to pick the ball up allowing Buckingham to dive on the open ball to score 10 – 29. This seemed to take the stuffing out of Bicester who finally decided to miss some tackles and allow Buckingham through for the final score of the match 10 – 36.
Overall there were some pleasing performances with the defence and tackling much improved, a need for quicker ball to allow the backs to go forward could have seen more penetration out wide. A good hard game to get us back on track for 2013. Squad of Josh, Alfie, Ed, Ashley, Tom B, Cameron D, Cameron H, Mark, Ieuan, Max, Lewis, Tom C, Rhys, Benjamin, James, Oscar, Adam, Drew, Alex, Harrison, Garin, Dan B, Christian, Ben L, Louis, Ethan.