BUCKINGHAM 11 BICESTER 23 BY PAUL CHRISP
In an enthralling hard fought contest, Bicester’s well drilled defence restricted Buckingham to just 1 try, a drop goal and a penalty, 12 minutes into the second half, when they were 11-10 in arrears, following the loss of flanker Ryan Biscoe to a rib injury on the stroke of half time and winger Tevita Naleca to the sin bin 10 minutes after the break for a high tackle. Replacement flanker Wes Westaway was likewise yellow carded for a ruck infringement 5 minutes later but once the visitors were restored to full strength, 25 minutes from full time, their forwards dominated the set pieces and the loose while the backs led by man of the match, centre Tom Miles and full back Charlie Bethell, entertained the large crowd with some glorious passing moves. In this final period Bicester scored a converted try and 2 penalty goals without reply to record a well deserved 4 point victory, thereby retaining 2nd place in the league table. In addition to his 8 2nd half points, Miles also converted the visitors first half try, and added a penalty to give his side a 10-8 advantage at the break.
Buckingham dominated the early stages, and were ahead after 13 minutes , when the visitors spilled the ball in the centre of the field and quick recycling to the left side enabled no.8 Phil Wright to scamper across in the corner. 15 minutes later, Buckingham transferred their ball from a 5 metre scrum on the left, into the middle, where fly half Ed Kinman dropped a goal from in front of the posts. Straightaway, Bicester no.8 Francois Weise won a turnover on the left side. Centre Lemeki Valevou then made good ground through the middle, before scrum half Christian Manns lightning break on the right was continued by winger Peter Tarrega, who sent full-back Charlie Bethell hurtling across to the right of the posts. Tom Miles converted and 4 minutes later, the visitors led by 2 points as a superb handling move, featuring Tarrega, Bethell, Westaway, Valevou, Mann, Naleca, Miles and hooker Will Anns, resulted in a penalty award which Miles slotted over from 20 metres.
After the break, Bicester centre Naleca was yellow carded, and despite thumping tackles near the posts by no.8 Weise and centre Miles, the visitors conceded a penalty which fly-half Ed Kinman easily banged over to give Buckingham an 11-10 advantage. Wes Westaway was then also shown a yellow card, and for 5 minutes (or so) Bicester were reduced to 13 men. However they survived the handicap, before launching a brilliant fightback to comfortably win the game.
In the meantime replacement Jake Sawyer had taken place in the visitors front row at tight-head prop, and another slick handling move ended in a failed drop-goal attempt by Miles. Immediately, no.9 Weise stole the Buckingham line out ball on the left and winger Tarrega initiated a break to combine with both Miles and Bethell on the left flank, before Tevita Naleca scorched round the posts for a try which Tom Miles again converted to put his side 6 points ahead. Bicester were well and truly in the driving seat now and when Buckingham were shunted backwards off their own scrum ball, the visitors lead was extended to 9 points, as Miles knocked over an 18 metre penalty goal. Finally, after good play on the left by lock Will Thurlow and Wes Westaway, full back Bethell raced clear from a scrum before the ball was switched inside again, where Buckingham infringed, and Tom Miles stroked over his 3rd penalty of the match, from close to the 22 metre line.
Result: Banbury 3rds 50 Bicester 3rds 5 (try: Ali Atashgah)
Sat 11 March Bicester v Gosford All Blacks (home – 2.30pm start)
Updated 15:16 - 16 Mar 2017 by Bicester RUFC