Bicester fightback to snatch dramatic victory

Bicester centre John Behan crashes through the Marlow defence to score a try
Bicester centre John Behan crashes through the Marlow defence to score a try

Bicester staged a brilliant late fightback to come from 20-10 down and earn a thrilling last-gasp victory away at Marlow.

Trailing by seven points at half-time, and then by 10 midway through the second half, two tries in the final quarter saw the visitors claim victory.

Once again, both forwards and backs cohered well, but the architect of this fine victory was loose-head prop Tom Horwood, whose long driving runs up the centre of the field made huge dents in the Marlow defence, and earned him the Man of the Match award.

His brother, flanker Jack Horwood, and second row Tim Farrow also impressed, while behind the scrum, centre John Behan twice crossed for tries.

The result sees Bicester move above both Drifters and Beaconsfield to sit seventh in the Southern Counties North.

After surviving early pressure from the visitors, Marlow scored two tries in quick succession to lead 12-0. First, a wayward Bicester pass close to their own try line went astray, and Marlow took full advantage with Steven Pincott sprinting across on the right.

Full-back Nichloas Carvey converted, and straight away, a quick break from well inside the Marlow half resulted in Shaun Miller touching down.

Shortly afterwards, the home side lost flanker Edward Hewitt to the sin-bin, and following a massive charge up the middle of the field by Horwood, Behan sped over to the right of the posts to reduce the gap to seven at the break.

Straight from the restart, both sides had their fly-halfs, Andy Cook and Peter Lewis, despatched to the sin-bin and with Marlow’s Milres Noble also yellow carded two minutes later, Bicester got to within two points when Dan Spencer scampered across in the corner for an unconverted try.

However, with Hewitt and Noble back on, Marlow gained the upper hand with Noble crossing for his side’s third try before Carver was on target with a well-struck drop goal.

Despite trailing 20-10, Bicester were still full of running and six minutes later they hauled themselves right back into the game when David Behan collected a kick on the right and the ball was quickly transferred across to the left, where winger Dave Aslett’s lightning burst was continued by John Behan, who stormed over in the corner for a try.

Marlow then came close to sealing victory in a frenetic finale with what surely would have been a match-winning try, but instead it was Bicester who had the final say.

Powerful driving down the centre by Tom Horwood and then his brother Jack wrong-footed the Marlow defence, and from the resulting 10-metre scrum, Bicester’s tremendous shove was illegally halted by Marlow, who then conceded a penalty try, enabling Andy Cook to slot over the winning conversion for the visitors.

Bicester host struggling Milton Keynes this weekend.

Elsewhere, Bicester IIs beat Maidenhead IIIs 39-7 after Granville Williams and Ryan Gallacher scored two tries apiece, while Craig White’s brace helped the IIIs to a 39-10 victory over Harwell IIs.