Bicester travelled to Grove being able to play at last after many postponements for bad weather. The sun was shining and the day was ripe for open rugby on a wide pitch.
Bicester kicked off and immediately put pressure on Grove with the forwards driving towards the line but resolute defence kept them out. Grove managed to pick up a loose ball and put in a relieving kick which was well placed behind the Bicester defence and with the hard grounds keeping the ball bouncing and a good chase forced Bicester to touch down over their own line to give a 5m scrum to Grove. From the scrum the Grove No.8 picked up and just managed to get over the line with Bicester players hanging on to him for the first score 0 -7. From the restart it was the same again with good pressure up front from Bicester and great defence from Grove to keep them out. Another loose ball and a long kick downfield from Grove and it looked like déjà vu, but this time Max picked the ball up in his own 22 and beating the chasing player saw the opportunity to counter attack where he went outside and inside the covering Grove defence to go all the way to score 5 – 7. Bicester continued to take the game to Grove but again good Grove defence stopped any progress in midfield. However from a scrum Dan T took the ball on set up the ruck and was there again to take a pass to dive over to score 10 – 7. Bicester were now on top and just needed some composure to really turn the screw, but what now happened was a comedy of errors. From the restart kick Bicester allowed the ball to bounce awkwardly managing to just recover possession on their own line and passing the ball back the game turned to basketball and the loose ball was touched down by Grove 10 – 14. Against the run of play Bicester somehow found themselves behind. Grove had their tails up and were fighting for everything making it difficult for Bicester to have any continuity in their backs. So it was back to forward pressure and Alan took a short ball close to a ruck to go over to score on his comeback from injury game with Max converting 17 – 14 to end the first half.
The second half became disjointed, but Grove started to use their backs to run at Bicester and looked dangerous but good defence held them out. Bicester were soaking up the pressure until they were able to run the ball wide in their own 22 to make good ground up into the Grove 22. From the scrum Grove appeared to win the ball but good counter rucking allowed Dan T to pick up and go through the middle to score with Max converting 24 – 14. Bicester now had several chances to extend the score only for the last pass missing or the wrong decision being made with the Grove line at their mercy. This allowed Grove back into the game and with a good backs move that opened the space for them to run through they scored in the corner 24 – 19. The last few minutes were tense as Bicester looked to hold Grove out and get that final score themselves. Again with the line begging and a 3 man overlap Bicester failed to make the most of good play and allowed scrambled Grove defence to force the ball into touch close to the corner. This was the last play of the game and Bicester held on for a win that was closer than it should have been if they had taken the most of their chances. However credit must be given to Grove who put in a stern performance in defence never shirking from the tackle and stopping some excellent Bicester forward drives, whilst the Grove backs showed speed and guile to pressure Bicester into some needless mistakes.
Well played and extremely pleased with the discipline and composure. Squad of Josh, Alfie, Tom B, Ashley, Alan, Adam, Mark, Dan T, Drew, Oscar, Alex, Dan B, Harrison, Garin, Christian, Max, Benjamin, Ben L, Tom C, Rhys, Louis, James