Late penalty try gives Oaks win

Oakham RFC v Peterborough RFC. Photo: Ali Rainer EMN-140411-103647001
Oakham RFC v Peterborough RFC. Photo: Ali Rainer EMN-140411-103647001

Oakham are growing into a steely team and on Saturday their relentless efforts on Saturday paid off with a hard fought victory coming by way of a penalty try late in the day.

Oakham beat Lutterworth 17-16 with a last minute penalty try after their driving maul from a lineout was brought down three times in a row. On the third occasion the referee lost patience and marched under the posts to award the penalty score.

The Oaks fly-half Mark Matthews held his nerve to score the match winning conversion from straight in front.

Oakham started very well despite having to silence a large crowd and overcome a boggy pitch.

They marched into a 10-0 lead after soaking up pressure on their own line. Young flanker Nick Houghton crashed over the line for Oakham’s first score and then shortly after Matthews caught the Lutterworth defence napping with a quick tap penalty and went in to score. Matthews, struggling with the conditions, missed both conversions and by half time it was looking like that would cost the travelling side.

Lutterworth came back strong and scored a try through their forwards and a pair of penalty kicks to give them a 13-10 lead at the break.

After the break there was a bit of a stalemate although Lutterworth extended their lead with another penalty. But in the final moments Oakham won a penalty and had a big decision to make. To kick for the posts and guarantee a bonus point or go for the corner and try and drive over the line.

Second-row captain Andrew Wallace was feeling adventurous and pointed for the corner and while the pack failed to get over the line it was only through foul play and they were awarded the penalty try, vindicating the captain and taking Oakham’s winning streak out to three in a row in the Midlands Two East South.

Player coach Tom Armstrong said: “It was a good result for us. Everyone was a bit battered after the game because of all the defending but it was a good feeling because we had worked hard.”

l While most people will be putting their feet up on Boxing Day Oakham’s rugby players will be taking to the field as the club revive an old tradition much to the delight and excitement of the Rutland rugby community.

The Oaks were approached by new derby rivals Stoneygate, who are based in Uppingham, about going head-to-head in a one off friendly on Boxing Day and have taken up the challenge.

Armstrong said: “When I was younger there was always a Boxing Day game but it kind of died off so when we were approached every one was keen.

“They are a good side and have got some really good players. There is a growing rivalry with each side looking for the bragging rights.”

Armstrong said he is keen to get as many Oakham players, of all ages, involved as possible having rolling subs to allow as many people as possible to take part in the match.

Stoneygate have been based in Uppingham for 18 months and are integrating into the community more and more each month. They regularly get crowds of more than 100 people turn out to support them.

The rivalry between Oakham and Stoneygate is growing all the time and the Oaks Second XV play in the same league as Gate.

This year the match will be played at Oakham’s Showground, kick off is 1.30pm with plans to play away at Uppingham next season.