In a closely fought match where Bicester were on top going forward it was the resolute Stow defence that in the end made the difference. Both teams showed the step up in physicality needed for U16’s and chances need to be taken at every opportunity. The game was split into three 20 minute periods and it was agreed that lineouts would not be contested to allow both sets of forwards to get used to the new lifting techniques.
In the first period Bicester started off strongly with good forward drives recycling and retaining the ball well, however Stow showed their commitment to the tackle bringing down whatever was thrown at them. Some really encouraging rugby was being played but the breakthrough wouldn’t come, a scrum against the head gave Bicester an opportunity but some poor hands allowed Stow to regain the ball and clear their lines. It was now Bicester’s turn to defend and this they did well turning the ball over and with a clearing kick to the open Lewis showed his speed to regain the ball on the bounce before he was brought down in the Stow 22. What next ensued was rather unsavoury as a melee of players and coaches (trying to stop it not join in!) erupted, players from both sides were lucky to stay on the pitch. The end of the first period with neither side able to score 0 – 0.
The second period was much like the first with Bicester driving and Stow repelling. But then Stow started a bit of their own pressure and with the Bicester backs sucked in they went wide but the cover defence stopped them short only for Stow to recycle and go up the blind to score in the corner 0 – 5. Bicester kept plugging away and Stow kept tackling and the pace of the game was immense with neither side giving an inch. Stow crept into the Bicester 22 and Bicester looked safe in defence but a couple of drives took Stow over the line with the ball looking to be held up but with the referee close by a try was awarded 0 – 12. Normally heads would drop and accusations would fly but this year Bicester are a team on a mission, with a game plan that no-one was going to divert us from. So back it was and finally the backs came alive and with a planned move the defence was sucked in and Lewis was released on the outside to go round to score 5 – 12.
The third period should have seen the intensity drop as tiredness kicked in but credit and respect to both teams who continued at it hammer and tongs, Bicester driving forward and Stow knocking us back. Bicester tried to run it wide but Stow defence was solid, and eventually it was Stow who found the legs on the outside to run in a good try for the final score 5 – 17.
Despite the result Bicester can take many positives from the game, we will not meet many better defensive tackling sides than Stow (well done boys and good luck for the rest of the season!). The game plan was kept to and the ball being recycled was the best I have seen, defence was good with everyone putting in the hard work, when we worked a backs move we scored.
Special mention to Archie on his debut and overall a great spirit from the whole squad of Ed, Adam, Garin, Oscar, Harrison, Tom, Alan, Dan B, Ashley, Cameron, Christian, Louis, Ieuan, Lewis, Rhys, Dan W, Archie, Ethan, James.