Oakham RFC bounced back from a lacklustre performance last week to get back to winning ways in the Midlands Two East South with a 26-0 victory over Biggleswade.
Having won the toss Oakham chose to take advantage of the gale force wind blowing straight down the pitch, the consensus among the Oakham spectators was an estimated 15-20 point benefit to the team playing with the wind in their favour.
The wind was so strong it was nearly impossible for the opposition to kick themselves out of trouble as Oakham camped in the Biggleswade 22 almost from the kick off. From a scrum awarded to Oakham ten metres out number eight George Reid picked and made ground before Oakham set-up a series of drives with Phil Gant eventually forcing his way over to give Oakham their first score. Kicking was difficult, even with the wind, and the conversion was missed making it 5-0 with five minutes played.
The game descended into a scrappy affair with both sides making handling errors, lineouts were a lottery , passes drifting forwards or backwards depending on the team with the ball. Despite doing most of the attacking Oakham were not making the most of the wind advantage.
After another penalty conceded by Biggleswade Oakham kicked for the corner and after winning the lineout were able to control some ball. Ed McFarlane drove deep into the opposition 22 the ball was quickly recycled , Tom Burton picked a great line to receive Nick Wackwitz’s pop pass and split the defence open to cross near the posts converted by Wackwitz for 12-0 with 23 minutes played.
Oakham were starting to play with some cohesion and following a quick tap penalty by Callum Crellin the ball was moved to wing James Padley who crashed through the opposition defence, finally stopped just short of the line he popped a pass up to the supporting Adam Stimson to score in the corner. The conversion was missed.
Oakham tried desperately to create another score before half time whilst they still had the wind in their favour but were forcing Biggleswade into giving away penalties at the ruck. Eventually the referee took action and yellow carded the Biggleswade lock.
Oakham knew they could not kick the ball out of defence in the second half and from the outset played a game-plan to retain possession in the forwards and only move the ball wide when there was space to do so.
For the first 20 minutes of the second half the game descended into a set pattern as Biggleswade attacked and Oakham denied them continuity of possession.
As the game entered the final quarter Biggleswade were running out of ideas and Oakham, having played the ideal game-plan were beginning to feel they had the game in their control. The Oakham backs were now coming into the game and from another breakout James Padley made huge inroads into the Biggleswade half and was taken on by Phil Gant. From this position with five minutes to go Oakham got their just reward for an outstanding team performance as the back row set up another series of pick and drives resulting in Angus Boyle touching down to make the score 24-0. Somehow Nick Wackwitz managed to slot the difficult conversion for 26-0.
It was Oakham’s best performance of the season , especially in the second half against the gale-force wind, with backs and forwards carrying out coach Tim Andrew’s game plan to perfection .
The defence was heroic and rewarded by the fact it was not only Oakham’s first clean sheet of the season but the second time they had not conceded two or more tries in a game .
With the Oakham Second XV also winning 13-0 away at Sowerby it was a very encouraging weekend for Oakham RFC.