Oakham RFC held out against a late charge from Vipers to win 25-20 for their first success of the season in the Midlands Two East South division on Saturday.
Training with coaches Tim Andrews, Alun Meadows and Kevin Oliver had been intense in the build up to the game as Oakham looked to end their three game run of loses.
The Oaks showed their defensive intent from the kick-off with a crunching tackle by Tom Burton on the Vipers’ centre as he attempted a crash ball move in midfield. This set the tone for the match as Oakham’s defensive patterns gave Vipers no easy breakthrough.
Oakham were starting to dictate the game and their attack looked capable of breaking through. Against the run of play vipers launched and a speculative kick into Oakham’s half which saw the bounce of the ball wrong-foot Oakham’s defence as it sat up nicely for the Vipers’ fly half to run on to. He was well tackled by full back Will Armstrong but managed to pop the ball up to a support runner who crossed in the corner. The conversion was missed to leave Oakham 5-0 down after 10 minutes.
The game developed into a set pattern as Oakham, well marshalled by scrum half Callum Crellin ,attempted to get back on even terms. Good work by George Reid enabled Oakham to get into Vipers’ 22 and Vipers gave away a series of penalties as they desperately held Oakham out. Oakham could not take advantage as Oakham’s kicker had an off day with his place kicking.
Undeterred the Oaks resumed their attack and from a scrum 25 metres out they ran a set play backs move which resulted in Will Armstrong slicing through the defence after a well-timed pass from fly half Nick Wackwitz to score wide out, the conversion was missed so leave the score level at 5-5 after 25 minutes played.
Vipers tried to attack Oakham through the midfield but the visitor’s defence was holding firm with another crunching tackle by Henry Hives setting the tone. The pressure from Vipers started to tell as Oakham conceded a series of penalties at the breakdown. After a couple of misses the Vipers’ kicker found his range and slotted a penalty to give them a 8-5 lead.
Oakham were undeterred and went on the attack from their own 22 as the ball was spun to wing Adam Stimson who made good ground before offloading to Will Armstrong. Desperate defence by Vipers saw them concede more penalties and Oakham drew level as Wackwitz at last sent a kick through the posts to level the scores to 8-8 at half time.
Straight from the kick-off in the second half Oakham drove the ball into Vipers’ half and a jinking run by Crellin from a ruck took the Rutland side to within ten metres of the Vipers’ line. A series of pick and drives by Oakham’s forwards enabled hooker Rhys Grieve to squeeze over near the corner. The conversion was missed.
Withstanding a renewed Vipers effort to get back into the game Oakham counter attacked from their own 22 and from a ruck on half way Crellin made another break but was brought down ten metres from Vipers’ line. The forwards then took over but were unable to make progress against a stubborn defence. Oakham then changed tactic and spun the ball to the backs who executed another well executed strike move to put Will Armstrong under the posts, converted by Wackwitz for 8-20.
Oakham were looking in control of the game as both forwards and backs combined to attack Vipers again. Another break from Crellin, who was having an outstanding game, saw Oakham awarded a scrum 15 metres out from the Vipers’ line. Another strike move from the Oakham backs from a set play allowed Tom Burton to latch onto Wackwitz’s well timed flat miss pass to score under the posts. The fly half then had his conversion kick charged down in front of the posts.
Vipers were not beaten yet and following a penalty kick to within five metres of Oakham’s line, they won the lineout and set-up a driving maul ending in a try with the conversion missed to bring the score to 13-25
Vipers attacked again and following a series of penalties Dan Watkins was yellow carded to increase the pressure on Oakham’s defence. Taking advantage of these Vipers drove over again from a five metre lineout for a losing bonus point.