A hard fought encounter where neither side were able to dominate the other but Bicester made the most of their chances to run out the winners. A rugby treat for the spectators which kept them on the edge of their seats right up until the final whistle.
Bicester travelled with reduced numbers and following a couple of no shows started the match with 14 and a few players not in their normal positions. The game began with both teams trying to exert pressure but the defences on each side were up for it and the big hits were not allowing anything through. Bicester tried to run the ball with a set move but unfortunately the ball didn’t go to hand and an Andover player was able to capitalise on the absence of a Bicester fullback to run through and score an opportunistic try which was converted 0 – 7. A late arrival allowed Bicester to go back up to 15 on the pitch and this allowed them to put added pressure on Andover who gave away a series of penalties which allowed Bicester to make progress deep into the Andover half. Another penalty and the ball was spun out to Ed on the crash and he drove over with Andover players holding on in vain to score 5 – 7. Andover came back at Bicester and drove through their forwards but again good defence stopped the danger. But a penalty for offside allowed Andover to drive the ball on and over the line to score 5 – 12. An injury to Ed and no subs had Bicester back down to 14. Both sides were now playing some good rugby with Andover slightly in the ascendancy as we moved to half time.
The second half saw Bicester come out strongly and they started to put some real pressure on Andover whose defence held firm and they came back at Bicester who in turn showed solid defence. Both sides were trying to find ways through but the gaps were just not opening. Then Andover put in a long kick which saw a great catch by Bicester who in turn put in a long kick which had the chasers following up and a tackle and turnover saw Dan W up the blindside to score and convert his own try 12 – 12. Game on! Andover now lost a little focus and a couple of sin bins saw them down to 13 for a period but they rallied and covered every break that Bicester were now making until they were back up to their full complement of 15. The game ebbed and flowed and the next score was going to be vital, Bicester were running directly and nearly getting through and then tackling anything that came back at them. Bicester made a break up into the Andover 22 only for the final ball to go forward resulting in a scrum. Garin expertly hooked against the head and the ball was run down the line, an Andover tackle seemed to stop the move but the ball was recycled and Dan W again saw a space down the blindside to outstrip the cover for a great score which he again converted 19 – 12. There was still time for Andover to come back but the Bicester defence was special and there was no way through with every Bicester player now covering across the pitch. The final whistle went and there was both joy and relief that Bicester had come back and then held out a determined Andover team.
Again the maturity of this Bicester team was seen as they didn’t panic when they went behind but continued to play to their game plan and the solid defence in the second half set them up to take their opportunities when they arose to go on and win the game. Well done to the squad of Ed, Garin, Oscar, Alan, Adam, Harrison, Dan B, Ashley, Christian, Dan W, Louis, Rhys, Mark, Sam, Johnny