Bicester turned up with 13 and lost four during the game but still put up a fight to restrict a full Stratford side to only 3 tries in each half.
Bicester travelled to Stratford with depleted numbers due to injury and unavailability with 8 forwards and only 5 backs. Stratford kindly lent two players (both forwards) to ensure that the game started at 15 a side which was appreciated.
With some rejigging Bicester started the first half with a Prop and a Hooker on each wing (well played Oscar and Adam you didn’t look out of place). They also started very slowly and were under immediate pressure from the kick-off where a penalty was awarded to Stratford who went over in the corner 0 – 5. Bicester started to make some ground but lost the ball forward where Stratford put in a long cross field kick and the nice bounce went into their wingers hands and it was 0 – 12. More Stratford pressure and some standing off from tackles allowed Stratford to find space to go in at the corner 0 – 17. With only 10 minutes gone the crowd thought that this was going to be a long day which appeared even longer when Lewis after an excellent cover tackle had to go off with blurred vision. So Bicester down to 14. But this seemed to galvanise Bicester who drove and tackled and made progress until they went over the line to touch down but with the referee unsighted only a 5m scrum was awarded. Bicester then held Stratford out for the rest of the first half.
The second half again saw Stratford running at Bicester but this time there were no easy ways through and the defence held firm. Then Ashley had a knee to the head and had to come off, so Bicester down to 13. This allowed Stratford some space and a few missed tackles allowed the Stratford runner through to score 0 – 22. Bicester didn’t give up and again took the ball on when another injury to Alan (man of the match for his all round performance) meant that Bicester were now down to 12 with only 6 forwards. The laws state that an equal number of players should contest the scrum but Stratford were allowed to scrum with a full 8 and so any good ball became very difficult to win. Also unluckily a knock-on was not spotted and the bouncing ball was gathered by Stratford who went over to score 0 – 29. Bicester were battling and trying to go forward as well as defend when another Bicester player had to leave the field, so Bicester were now down to 11 players (including the 2 Stratford players thank you!). Bicester continued to compete and the cover tackling was superb but finally tired legs allowed Stratford to run in the final try of the day with the final score 0 – 34.
You could not fault the Bicester commitment and except for those first 10 minutes and the last 5 Bicester competed equally with Stratford. Next game hopefully the full squad will be back but to those who played today well done, squad of Ed, Dan B, Tom, Ashley, Harrison, Alan, Christian, Ieuan, Oscar, Rhys, Louis, Adam, Lewis.