MATCH REPORT: Witney III v Bicester II
By Paul Jaggers
@BicesterRUFC, @WitneyRFC, #UpTheFox
B.B.O DIV 2 WITNEY 3RDS 34 BICESTER 2NDS 7
A well organised and more incisive Witney side belied their lowly league position to earn a well-deserved bonus point victory, against a lack lustre Bicester second XV. However, Bicester do have the consolation of moving into 4th place ahead of Beaconsfield 2nds who conceded their away fixture to Thatcham 2nds. Bicester had their share of the possession stakes, but their ball retention was poor, whilst Witney took full advantage of 4 unforced Bicester errors, to run in tries. The hosts scored 6 tries altogether, 3 in each half, but only the last 2, in the second half, were converted by fly-half Leigh Manning. Bicester did improve after the break, and were rewarded with a try from skipper, prop Alex Macdonald.
Witney quickly went ahead, winning good quick ball from their first scrum, to send winger Luke Manning on a 60 metre sprint unchallenged down the left side to the try line. Then a period of Bicester pressure followed with prop Macdonald and flanker Ollie Cassidy driving off a line out, but after 20 minutes play, Witney doubled their lead to 10 points. The visitors were penalised at a maul, and from the resulting scrum, Witney moved the ball quickly through the centre, before putting Leigh Manning across on the left side. His conversion attempt struck the right upright. Witney were then awarded a penalty from which winger Jake Payne sped across on the right for another unconverted try.
Five minutes into the second half, Witney scored their 4th try, when Bicester, having won their scrum ball, coughed up possession in open play, and Witney kicked ahead from their own scrum, replacement Neil Carveth won the chase to pick up, and plunge across for a try, wide out on the left. 10 minutes later, a crooked line-out throw by Bicester presented Witney with another scrum deep inside their own half, from which centre Mike Ryan scorched all the way to the posts for a try, which this time Manning converted, to give the hosts a 27 point lead. 17 minutes from the end, Bicester recycled their scrum ball to the left, before receiving a penalty award, from which a tremendous charge by lock Ali Atashgah prized open the Witney defence, and full back Harry Gaunt was on hand to send prop Alex Macdonald stretching across for a try, which fly-half Ashley Timms easily converted from in front of the posts. More good running from Bicester centre Adam White ensued, but soon the visitors again lost possession in open play after heeling a Witney scrum against the head, and Luke Manning streaked over for his 2nd try with Leigh Manning again adding the conversion, 10 minutes from the final whistle.