Bicester were missing several players through injury and unavailability and so had to ring the changes in positions requiring a prop (Oscar) on the wing and two flankers (Mark and Adam) at centre and wing and Lewis moved to fullback. Despite these changes the Bicester backs always looked the stronger and more dangerous in attack and defence.
Bicester kicked off and immediately exerted great pressure on Andover keeping them pinned in their 22. Each time Andover tried to break out they were knocked back by stern Bicester defence, eventually Bicester won the ball and recycled through a couple of forward drives before the ball was spun out to Mark who brushed off three tacklers to score with Dan W converting 7 - 0. From the restart not going 10 Bicester exerted more pressure from the scrum and were awarded a penalty which was kicked into the corner. A 2 man line move worked to perfection with a catch and short pop to Ed who drove over 12 - 0. The game was going Bicesters way and Andover were struggling to stay with them, Bicester won good ruck ball and quick hands found Lewis in space who beat the fullback to score with Dan W landing an excellent conversion from wide out 19 - 0.
But then it happened, Bicester went to sleep and started to let Andover make some headway through their forwards. They continued to apply pressure and only good defence held the ball up over the Bicester line. Andover won good ball at the scrum and their No.8 picked up and drove over to score under the posts but the conversion was screwed wide 19 - 5 as we went into half time.
Andover came out in the second half looking to spoil any Bicester ball and the game became very scrappy especially at the breakdown where Bicester forgot their normal game and became more interested in getting involved in personal battles which resulted in an ugly mass brawl with a Bicester player being asked to leave the pitch. Andover took advantage and started to control the ball up front working the ball around the fringes. They gained a penalty in the Bicester 22 and gave it to their forwards who were strong enough to go over close to the posts, again the conversion went wide 19 -10. By now Bicester heads had gone and all thoughts of a game plan disappeared as they struggled to match Andover at the rucks. Another penalty and another try for Andover under the posts, this time they changed their kicker but the conversion was missed 19 - 15. Some stern talking by the captain seemed to have an effect and Bicester started to drive forward and revert back to how they started the match with good ball being run by the backs who made ground just being stopped short by a good final tackle. Bicester ended the game pressing the Andover line and were unlucky not to score. However when the final whistle went Bicester were mightily relieved as they knew this was a game they could have thrown away.
Lessons learnt that discipline is key and playing for the team is the most important thing. Body positions in the rucks were poor compared to previous weeks, but if we get good ball we are dangerous! However given the changes in positions the first 20 minutes and the final 10 minutes were great, the bit in the middle we can forget. Overall it was a messy win but well done to the squad of Ed, Garin, Finn, Harrison, Ashley, Dan B, Cameron, George, Christian, Ieuan, Oscar, Dan W, Mark, Adam, Lewis and thanks to Will.