After weeks of, it seems, inactivity due to the weather Bicester were back into action against Wallingford in a bruising but keenly contested League match where commitment of the highest level was shown by both sides.
Bicester for once forgot about their normally slow start and were straight into the game winning rucks and driving forward. This seemed to take Wallingford by surprise forcing them to make some handling errors as they were put onto the back foot. Wallingford tried to drive up the middle through their forwards but the Bicester defence held firm winning a turnover where the ball was whipped out to Max who with a dummy and a sidestep got behind the Wallingford line and with a great angle ran all the way to score under the posts which he also converted 7 – 0. Wallingford came back and after some early substitutions began to take control of the ball and play was concentrated in the Bicester half. However Bicester remained firm with tackle after tackle going in against a wall of pressure from Wallingford. The Bicester lineout was targeted by Wallingford with their No.7 quickly through on any tap ball not allowing Bicester to clear their lines. As half time approached Bicester were still in the lead thanks to fantastic defence, however pressure began to tell and from a lineout Wallingford gathered and drove over to score 7 – 5. From the restart Wallingford appeared to knock on but the referee allowed play to continue and Wallingford made ground before the covering tackles stopped them short of the line. Bicester rucked over but were deemed to have gone over the top giving Wallingford a penalty which they ran quickly to burst over the line 7 – 10. There was just time for Bicester to react and some neat play from a scrum saw a No.8 pick up and support to get Bicester into the Wallingford 22 where some desperate defence held them out to signal the end of the first half.
The second half was a game of attrition with both sets of forwards driving at each not wanting to let the other side through and bodies at times were littering the field. Bicester were still rucking well but the expert Wallingford technique of getting hands on the ball after a tackle meant that only slow ball was being recycled. However Bicester were trying to take the game to Wallingford and Max made another break to get back down to their 22 but Wallingford were quicker to the ball and managed a turnover which they ran back and with the defences stretched the Wallingford winger was through to score 7 – 17. Bicester suffered injuries to both Max and Rhys which meant a quick reorganisation in the backs. Again neither side wanted to give an inch and the tackling from both sides was of a very high standard and when either side tried to run the ball there was no way through. There was just time for Wallingford to get through onto a ball from a Bicester lineout and were over the line only for Bicester to hold the ball up. From the scrum 5 the Wallingford No.8 picked up and drove up the blind to score 7 – 24. Shortly afterwards the referee blew his whistle for the end of the game which he commented was one of the best Junior games he had refereed. The spectators from both sides were treated to an excellent game of rugby which whilst not having free flowing running rugby the effort and commitment from both sides was to be applauded.
Well done boys today you played at a higher level and have set a platform from which we can build on to really compete against the bigger squads. Squad of Josh, Alfie, Tom B, Dan T, Ashley, Adam, Cameron H, Mark, Harrison, Oscar, Garin, Dan B, Ieuan, Max, Lewis, Tom C, Rhys, Benjamin, Christian, Ben L