Bicester knew that they would be in for a hard match but also one that would gauge how much Bicester have progressed as the season has gone on. Things did not bode well as 3 no shows saw Bicester with only 14 men. To even things up WB lent Bicester the missing player (in fact 4 players who each played half a half) which was both generous and appreciated.
What the supporters were treated to was an epic match where the WB larger pack were up against Bicester speed and determination. The first half kicked off and the coaches held their breath to see how Bicester were going to respond. Immediately Bicester gained some good ball and Rhys made a sharp break to take play up into the WB half with the cover scrambling back to stop him resulting in a scrum to Bicester. A good solid platform saw the ball spun out where Rhys again broke through and linked with Aaron, playing his first game for the club, who went outside his winger into the corner and round to score under the posts with Christian converting 0 – 7.
The coaches could now breathe. However WB came back at Bicester but great defence both when WB drove close or spun wide kept them out. Bicester put pressure on themselves by giving away a couple of silly penalties when chasers were in front of the kicker as Bicester tried to clear their lines. The breakdown was ferocious with both sides rucking well. Finally after soaking up the pressure Bicester were able to break out and won a penalty mid field. A quick tap by Christian and the ball was spun wide for Aaron to squeeze in at the corner for his second try 0 – 12. WB again came at Bicester but the defence held firm knocking them back as they tried to cross the line. Bicester were given a scrum on their 5m line which should have been a chance to clear, but unfortunately the scrum was lost allowing WB to pick up and cross the line 5 – 12 and bringing the first half to an end.
The second half started and WB came at Bicester with renewed determination and made a couple of bursting runs through the heart of Bicesters defence but the cover was there until at a ruck near the Bicester line they forgot to defend the blindside allowing WB to stroll over to score wide out which was well converted to bring the scores level 12 – 12.
Bicester upped their game and started to win their rucks again and send the ball wide, unfortunately after another good run Aaron was injured and had to leave the pitch. So with Bicester down to 14 men, a couple of positional changes and 20 minutes to go it was going to need a monumental effort. Bicester pressed forward with both forwards and backs linking, driving and tackling to pressure WB who held firm. It was WB turn and they applied their own pressure until again using the blind side they went over to score with another well struck conversion 12 – 19.
Could Bicester come back or had the pace of the game taken its toll? But this Bicester side is made of tough stuff and heads no longer drop, instead the quality rucking gave the backs some ball to run and WB were penalised for offside. Bicester chose to run and in a move that saw swift hands and good offloads Bicester carved through the WB defences for Dan B to take the final inside ball and dive over wide out. A difficult conversion was needed to level the scores and Christian stepped up and struck the ball sweetly through the posts 19 – 19.
The final minutes of the game were running down and a draw seemed on the cards but Bicester had other ideas and ran the ball wide with Mark linking with Louis to get close to the WB line. Again WB were offside and Bicester gained a penalty, the referee called last play as Bicester drove at the WB line, the ball was recycled and Garin picked up but was enveloped by the WB forwards, Bicester drove the maul over the WB line and Garin twisted and spun loose to put the ball down for a score, another fine conversion by Christian and the final whistle went with Bicester winning 19 – 26.
What a game and what a performance! Wootton Bassett are a good side and had beaten Bicester quite heavily earlier in the season, but the performance from the whole team today showed a real desire and they do not know when they are beaten! Good play from every member of the team with support going forward and great defence (watch that blindside) going back. The squad can be really pleased with that Oscar, Garin, Harrison, Dan B, Tom, Ashley, Cameron, Christian, Ieuan, Rhys, Mark, Louis, Aaron (great debut) and James.