In their first game of 2017, Bicester picked up from where they left off before Christmas with a 20-12 win away at Thatcham that keeps them second and four points adrift of leaders Marlow in the Southern Counties North.
In a game of two halves, Bicester’s 20-point half-time lead proved to be just enough to earn victory as they had to contend with a rejuvenated Thatcham side throughout the entire second session.
Fortunately for the visitors, their defence was magnificent and despite being under pressure for very lengthy periods, they conceded just two tries as full-back Charlie Bethell earned the man of the match award for his all-round contribution.
Bicester began brightly with flanker Jack Horwood winning good line-out ball and as fly-half Dave Hampton sent centre Valevou surging forward, a penalty was conceded which Tom Miles slotted over from 21 metres.
A second Miles penalty made it 6-0 inside 12 minutes, and the away side’s first try wasn’t long far away as a superb handling move across the field featuring winger George Upton, Miles and Bethell ended with Peter Tarrega darting across in the right hand corner.
Mile’s conversion maintained Bicester’s supremacy, and 12 minutes later, on the stroke of half-time, Bicester struck again. From deep inside his own halft, industrious flanker Ryan Biscoe raced ahead before off-loading to Francois Weise and as prop George Withers sent lock Dan Spencer on another burst, scrum half Christian Mann was on hand to streak over for a try which Miles converted brilliantly.
That put Bicester in command at half-time, leading 20-0, however Thatcham dominated the second-half and tries for Ashley Taylor and James Thorogood revived hope of a comeback.
Bicester defended excellently, however, and fine work right at the end by forwards Jack Horwood and Will Anns resulted in a welcome penalty award to the hard-pressed visitors.
Elsewhere, Bicester IIs had a walkover win against Maidenhead IIIs and Bicester IIIs beat Chipping Norton 48-5.
Bicester host third-placed Aylesbury this weekend.