An audibly and visibly psyched up Wallingford side were most definitely up for the game and kicked off with the wind on their backs and set up a period of pressure in the Bicester half, but excellent defence and a couple of knock ons meant that they did not capitalise.
A series of penalties by Wallingford saw Bicester able to relive and move into the Wally half for a bit of pressure of their own. With Wally warned by the ref about hands in the ruck, the Bicester pressure was beginning to tell, but when they infringed again, the promised card never materialised.
With 15 minutes gone, Wally back in Bicester territory, Bicester won the ball and Harry fed Man of the Match Callum Nicoll who stepped through the Wally defence and seconds later was pressing for the line being hauled down just short by a cracking cover tackle. Wally nicked the ball and went the length of the field to open the scoring.
Have to say I felt sorry for the ref, two 22 to touch line runs in the space of around a minute had me breathless and I was only watching. An excellent conversion saw Wally 7 – 0 to the good.
Bicester picked things up and after an excellent chase at the restart attacked, with Buzz to the fore, twice being forced into touch close to the line.
Wallingford again counter rucked well and kicked clear. Tim, solid as usual, counter attacked and received a knock on the head, meaning he had to eventually leave the field – but not for a while.
With around 8 minutes of the half to go, Wallingford pressed again, against the run of play, and went over in the far corner. The conversion was missed and 19 – 0 with plenty of time in the half. Wally won the restart and pressed, a ruck was set up on half way and the excellent scrum half went for a box kick, Buzz charged the kick down – and received a yellow card for his troubles. With 5 minutes of the half to go, the half time whistle blew.
Bicester started the second half brightly and wave after wave of hooped shirts were kept out by some good defence. After a series of penalties and the advantage to Bicester, the pass was not quite crisp enough and was knocked on, with Wally clearing from the resultant scrum, but the respite was short lived and another series of drives and quick ball saw Wally penalised again Callum Nicoll crashed over and stretched to touch down, JG converted and game on.
More Bicester pressure relieved by Wally who were spurred on back to their best – moving the ball well, again the odd knock on stopping a few good moves. A penalty awarded on half way and quickly run by Wally several men over and for all the world a try looked on – and when the ball was knocked on, Callum pounced, and sprinted to score under the posts. JG missed the kick 19 – 12 and the final 20 minutes looked like they were going to be tense.
Bicester continued to press and Wally were again warned about hands in the ruck and offside. Wallingford cleared well and with the winger chasing well, Tim was under pressure, as he stooped to collect the ball, a shove from behind saw him taken out without the ball and the supporting Wally player was allowed to pick up and score under the posts.
By this time, Tim was off, looking more dazed than Hugh (is that possible on a Sunday?), JG at full back, Charlie at 10 and Archie suffering a reoccurrence of his thigh strain and Bicester rearranging.
Wallingford however had their dander up and played some excellent rugby – counter attacking from Fullback several times and finally starting to put their passes together moving the ball well and stretching Bicester to breaking point on several occasions, crossing another twice in the remaining 10 minutes of the half, before, after 40 minutes the final whistle sounded.
Bicester played well, Wallingford played better and the best team won.
With all league games now complete, Bicester sit third, same as last year and Wallingford are in a great position to press Chinnor all the way to the line, being 3 points behind with a game in hand. So Chinnor and Wallingford will fill the top two slots, same as last year, and Wally look well equipped to perhaps finish one place higher than last season, but you can guarantee that Chinnor will have something to say about that.
They are due to meet on 20 March – I might pop along and watch what will certainly be a good game.