Oakham RFC enjoyed a thrilling 29-26 victory over Oadby Wyggestonians in the Midlands Two East South Division on Saturday.
Oadby have been a bogey team for Oakham in recent years and were above their hosts, who were fielding a young side, in the league.
On a calm dry day, ideal for rugby, Oakham kicked off the first half and from the outset slipped into their bad habit of allowing the opposition to dictate the early play.
Having withstood some Oadby attacks Oakham looked in no danger when Oadby were awarded a scrum 20 metres from their own line. Oadby then broke clean through the Oakham midfield and, with good support play, eventually spread the ball to put their winger away on the outside who romped home for a converted try, 0-7.
From the kick-off Oakham secured ball only to drop it in midfield. With the Oakham backs lined up for attack they were caught flat footed as the loose ball was seized upon by Oadby’s fly half who sprinted 60 yards to score under the posts for another converted try, to make it 0-14 with 14 minutes played.
Given their recent form against Oadby, going 14 points behind so early in the game was beginning to look an uphill task for Oakham.
Oakham were undeterred and began to get back into the game, going through a series of phases before Callum Crellin made a good break coming into the line from full back . The ball was quickly recycled and James Beanland made inroads into the Oadby defence before popping the ball to his second row partner Phil Gant who scored in the corner, the conversion was missed, leaving the score at 5-14.
Oadby continued to look threatening but good defence from Oakham was holding them at bay. Struggling for possession Oakham were still able to launch occasional attacks of their own but continually infringed at the breakdown to allow Oadby to clear their lines whenever Oakham got into a threatening position. Half time arrived with the score remaining at 5-14.
Early in the second half Oakham, defending a lineout near their try line, again infringed at the breakdown and this time the referee made Martyn Stimson pay the penalty with ten minutes in the sin bin.
Oakham, spurred on by a vociferous crowd and a storming run by Jamie Brett, continued to attack through the phases, resulting this time in Oadby conceding a penalty at the breakdown. The penalty was converted by Crellin for 8-14.
Oakham were now settling into their game and a good attack was halted, the ball was recycled quickly before James Beanland broke through several tackles to score a fine individual try near the posts, converted by Crellin for the lead, 15-14, twelve minutes into the second half.
Oakham were now playing well and breaking out from their own 22 made ground into their opponent’s 22 before the ball was hustled into touch by Oadby. Oakham won the lineout and set-up a drive which was halted 15 metres out. The ball was recycled to Jamie Brett who powered over for a well worked try, converted by Crellin for 22-14.
Intent on a four try bonus point Oakham piled on the pressure against a tiring Oadby side and after numerous phases of play in their opponent’s 22 fly half Dan Ray finally found himself in space and stepped his way over from ten metres out, converted by Crellin 29-14 with ten minutes to play. A combination of Oakham relaxing and also tiring with their efforts and Oadby determined to retrieve some losing bonus points, saw a frustrating final ten minutes for Oakham as they conceded twelve points in the dying minutes to finish the game at 29-26 and allow their opponents two bonus points.