Once again Bicester shuffled the pack and this time, came up trumps.
Isaac and Ant were back in the side and showed well, especially Isaac, showing excellent pace and tackling, but the outstanding performance was by Man of the Match Harry at 9.
After a nervy first few minutes, Harry settled into the 9 role well, setting up Callum Nicoll at his line breaking best with some excellent ball.
Sadly we lost Conor early on after some promising interchanges and big hits, with a possible reoccurrence of his neck injury, meaning that the backs needed to reshuffle and when Archie limped off midway through the first half, more changes were required.
JG once again found himself in the centre and Charlie Bethell, playing his best game all season looked comfortable at 10.
For 20 minutes, the game was played in between the 22’s with only occasional forays deep into opposition territory by either team. Eventually Abingdon built a few phases in the Bicester 22 but the defence held firm, once again lead by the solid Tim Price and PJ who was tackling like a man possessed.
Tim started a move that, supported by Callum, Charlie and JG, saw James break the line to run in the first try. Conversion missed and the remaining minutes of the half followed a similar pattern to the first half, with both defences holding firm.
The second half was largely dominated by Bicester, the home side defending well, but some good solid rucking and counter rucking by the forwards secured phase after phase of quick ball, with Abingdon being caught offside time and again.
Eventually, after several phases, more quick ball released the backs, and quick hands saw Isaac in space, he stepped right, looking for all the world like he would go back inside, then stepped left and showed excellent pace to touch down 10m from touch.
As the rain began to fall, the conversion was again pulled wide. 0 – 10 and 20 minutes to go.
Abingdon kicked off, the restart not taken cleanly, but tidied well by George who made ground. An excellent ruck saw the ball released quickly and quick crisp passing found Will BH on the wing, just inside the Bicester 10. With a huge amount to do, Will showed pace and strength to beat 6 or 7 would be tacklers, few getting close to him as he scored just to the right of the sticks. JG converted and at 0 – 17 with around 15 to go Bicester looked settled.
With the rain now heavy the game became a little bogged down, but both sides kept the ball well, and once again defences dominated. With a couple of minutes to go and Abingdon Catch and Drive from a line out made excellent ground with great control, and when eventually stopped, Bicester infringed at the following ruck. The quickly taken penalty caught Bicester not 10 and the Abingdon prop crashed through, touching down under the posts for a well earned consolation. The successful conversion was the last kick of the game and 7 – 17 was probably a fair result.
Some great individual performances by Bicester, notably Harry, Callum, Tim Charlie and PJ, but also a solid team performance.