Bicester Rugby Club, the new Southern Counties North leaders, head to mid-table Beaconsfield this weekend looking to consolidate their position at the summit.
Having lost just twice in 13 games this season, Bicester ensured they went top of the table last Saturday with a 20-10 home victory over promotion rivals Aylesbury.
A sparkling first-half performance, which included three excellent tries, proved to be sufficient for Bicester to gain a well-deserved double over Aylesbury, despite the latter’s second-half fightback.
David Stow and Tom Miles both missed early penalties before a rampant 15-minute spell, which yielded three tries, towards the end of the first-half put Bicester in the driving seat at the interval.
Aylesbury infringed at a strong Bicester maul and from the ensuing scrum, Dave Hampton combined with prop Dave Lawther, scrum-half Christian Mann and centre Miles before a penalty led to Lawtherscampering through a gap and over the line.
Moments later, Aylesbury conceded successive scrums close to their own try line and from the second, Francois Weise’s slick pass fed Hampton, who sent winger Peter Tarrega careering over in the corner for an unconverted try.
Then, as half-time beckoned, Jack Horwood brilliantly stole Aylesbury’s line-out ball on the right and Hampton linked with Miles, who was unstoppable as he embarked on a superb 30-metre run to the posts, for a try which he also converted to give Bicester a 20-point half-time lead.
Playing downhill in the second session, Aylesbury were quickly on the offence and Nick Mercer got them on the scoreboard when slotting over a penalty before Andrew Stobbs touched down for the away side’s first try.
The visitors were exerting intense pressure on Bicester’s defence and right at the end, after superb defensive play by Lawther, Hampton gratefully booted the ball into touch from a scrum, before the gallant home team snaffled Aylebury’s line-out ball for the fourth time in the half to the sound of the ref’s final whistle.
That confirmed Bicester went top of the table, and now they head to sixth-placed Beaconsfield bidding to continue their winning run.