Oakham RFC got the better of Leicester Forest at the third time of asking on Saturday when they beat the visitors to the Showground 41-28.
Leicester Forest had already defeated Oakham twice this season in the Midlands Two East South league and in the cup.
However this meant Oakham were familiar with their opponents and knew their strengths were in the pack and had devised a game plan to move the visiting forwards around the pitch on the firm ground.
Kicking off into the breeze Oakham soon got into their stride and with some excellent running and support play were frequently cutting through Forest’s defence only to see the final pass going to ground. With continuous Oakham pressure it was only a matter of time before they scored and this came in the eighth minute as from a scrum 30 metres out Will Armstrong was put clean through to score under the posts, converted by Nick Wackwitz for 7-0.
Oakham were playing some great rugby with centres James Padley and Stee Vukinavanua continuing to attack from all areas of the field but were unable to evade the final defender as chances went begging. On the half hour mark Oakham scored two tries in quick succession firstly, following a break through the midfield by hooker Rhys Grieve, the ball was offloaded through several pairs of hands before flanker Martyn Stimson crossed near the posts converted by Wackwitz to increase Oakham’s lead to 14-0. Shortly after a lineout was won near half way by Oakham ,Wackwitz popped a clever inside pass to wing Ollie Booth who came infield on a great line to wrong-foot the Forest defence and score a well- constructed unconverted try for 19-0. Forest had no answer to Oakham’s fast pace game and reverted to their strengths in the forwards to score a converted try from a scrum five metres out, driving Oakham back before rumbling over.
Oakham were stung into action again and from the kick off, with good handling by centres Vukinavanua and Padley and fast paced off-loads, broke through the Forest defence to set-up a ruck ten metres out from the try line. Scum half Nick Houghton spotted a gap and shot over the line for a well taken try, unconverted, to make the half time score 24-7.
The second half continued in the same vein with Oakham looking threatening whenever they got the ball.
Following another run from Padley a series of pick and drives saw Vukinavanua power over for an unconverted try, 29-7.
Despite the score-line Forest started to win more possession as Oakham struggled in the scrum and following another penalty Forest kicked to the corner, but the subsequent lineout was won by Oakham and driving up-field the ball was released to the backs for Padley to outpace and evade several defenders to score from 70 metres out.
The conversion was missed, 34-7.
Oakham coach Tim Andrews then rang the changes to give the substitutes a run at prop, scrum half and back row . This led to Oakham struggling in the scrum where young prop Ewan Cooper was given a torrid time by his opposite number- an experience which will further his education in the dark arts of scrummaging.
In their desperation to get some ball Oakham, not for the first time this season, began to incur the referee’s wrath by handling and other infringements at the breakdown.
Finally tiring of repeated infringements the referee awarded a penalty try to Forest to make it 34-14.
This also resulted in flanker John Mitchell paying the price for the team by being sent to the sin bin.
With 20 minutes to go and with Oakham a man down Forest were dominating the scrum and breakdown but then as Forest attacked a wild pass from their centre allowed the ball to bounce high on the hard ground and Oakham number eight James Beanland seized the loose ball and outpaced the defence to score a converted try, 41-14.
For the final ten minutes the game deteriorated into an arm wrestle with Forest relying on their pack to dominate the scrums and breakdown denying a tiring Oakham side possession and forcing them into penalties.
Forest scored twice in the closing minutes by driving over Oakham’s line from close range to somewhat distort the final score. The victory sees the Oaks sit in fifth spot in the league.