Belgrave 19 Oakham 15
Oakham’s outstanding winning run came to an end at Belgrave on Sunday, but it wasn’t for lack of effort on the part of the Rutland side.
Oakham’s bid to extend the sequence to five in a row took place on the first wintry day of the season and at a venue which has not been a good hunting ground for the local side.
But as play got underway in near freezing conditions Oakham’s intent was plain.
With the slope and wind in their favour, the backs dominated, backed up by their forwards winning good early ball and a score was soon on the board.
Quick handling by Nick Wackwitz and Tom Burton gave James Beanland his fifth try in three matches, and Callum Crellin converted.
This stung Belgrave into action and they pinned Oakham back for long periods.
The Rutlanders’ defence was heroic at times, but pressure told in the end and Belgave’s Jon Pollard went over to score an unconverted try after 20 minutes.
Oakham responded well and a Crellin penalty increased their lead to 5-10, which was maintained until half-time.
Now playing up the slope and into a strong wind the Oakham forwards showed great determination and a Nick Haughton try was just reward for the their efforts.
The score, after 43 minutes rocked Belgrave but they rallied and pinned Oakham in their 22. In what felt like a constant bombardment, Oakham conceded two converted tries in the 63rd and 65th minutes and this proved the turning point as Belgrave moved into a 19-15 lead.
Oakham finished strongly and were awarded four penalties as they piled on the pressure but the young side perhaps showed their lack of experience by spurning the chance to kick for points.
Oakham could, and perhaps should, have won the game but a losing bonus point enables them to retain fifth position in the league.