Bicester carried on where they left off against Drifters before Christmas to stage another outstanding peformance at home to third-placed Thatcham.
Once again Bicester defended magnificently especially in the first session when the visitors used the electric pace of their left wing Simon Niven to launch a stream of attacks down the slope.
Then just before half time, Steve Risbridger put the home side ahead with a penalty. Despite now playing against the wind, Bicester used the slope to good effect as they kept the ball tight in the forward exchanges, while revealing good contact and ball retention skills round the fringes of the rucks and mauls for lengthy periods.
Though essentially a 15-man team effort with backs and forwards combining well throughout, Bicester can thank the huge effort by their forwards in the crucial second period for this fine victory.
The front row of Dave Ahu-Gooch, Dan Horwood, and man of the match Chris Giles at loose head prop worked tirelessly in both the set pieces and the loose play and when hooker Horwood eventually hobbled off with blisters on his feet, replacement Alex Benjamin also impressed.
Straight from the kick-off Thatcham were awarded a penalty but full-back Toby Littlechild shot wide from 30 metres. The visitors went close on the left side, while only a prodigious tackle by Dickie Walsh prevented a try on the right. Next, Thatcham lost their own five metre scrum and Bicester’s no 8 Dan Spencer released a long clearance kick deep into their territory on the left.
Then, following good play by Spencer, Bicester scrum-half Risbridger banged over a 15-metre penalty kick, seven minutes from half time.
As play resumed, Risbridger drilled a penalty to the right touchline and from the line-out centre Dom Southey broke sharply down the centre of the field before releasing Walsh under the posts for a try which Risbridger also converted.
Thatcher then appeared to knock the ball forward on their own line, but the referee didn’t see the incident. Later Bicester won a Thatcham scrum against the head and young replacement Alex Benjamin embarked on a spectacular sprint down the right. Finally , Bicester heeled another scrum against the head and no 8 Spencer cut loose before sending winger Dave Aslett careering over for a try, Risbridger converted from a position close to both the right touchline and the 22 metre line.
>> Last Saturday Bicester II went down 27-0 at Witney III, while Bicester III’s game at Winslow was postponed due to a waterlogged ground.
This Saturday Bicester I visit Swindon College OB, Bicester II host Chesham, while Bicester III travel to Marlow III. On Sunday Bicester Colts entertain Combe Down in the National Colts Plate third round,2pm kick-off.