Bicester stun high-flying Stow

Chris Harley scored Bicester's first try agaisnt Stow. Picture by Lisa Horwood
Chris Harley scored Bicester's first try agaisnt Stow. Picture by Lisa Horwood

Bicester produced another fabulous team performance to overwhelm high-flying Stow-on-the-Wold and go sixth in the Southern Counties North.

Following the previous week’s 76-0 dismantling of Milton Keynes, Bicester were forced to make five changes for the trip to Stow, but it made little difference as Ryan Gallacher and Josh Young both scored on their return from injury while fly-half James Grosvenor was named Man of the Match in a 32-12 victory over the promotion hopefuls.

Stow took the lead with a long-range penalty attempt from full-back Nick Cafearo after 25 minutes, but Bicester immediately struck back.

A clearing kick from the hosts was collected by winger Dave Aslett, who linked with scrum half Mike Harris before centre Dan Spencer’s superb flick pass released fellow centre Chris Harley on the left side and he passed several defenders on a 35-metre sprint to the posts.

Spencer converted, and moments later, as Stow winger George Plumb was sin-binned for raking, Spencer landed a 25-metre penalty to give the visitors a 10-point half-time lead.

Within four minutes of the resumption of play, Stow scored two tries to wipe out Bicester’s advantage. First, fly-half James Holmes collected the restart drop out and plunged across on the left, before the same man was played in by Cafearo for his second try.

Cafearo added the conversion to put Stow ahead by two points, however Bicester were back in front just seven minutes later when a penalty was drilled into touch on the left and strong running from the line-out by Spencer was taken on by Harris until a tremendous maul ensued, from which prop Tom Horwood was driven across.

Straightaway, following a quick burst down the left by Aslett, Tim Farrow drove off the resulting line-out and the move was continued by lock Ryan Gallacher, whose storming run down the touchline ended with tight-head prop Dave Behan stretching across for another unconverted try.

Slick handling by Harris, Spencer and James Grosvenor almost gifted Aslett a try, again on the left, and 21 minutes from the final whistle, Stow’s fate was virtually sealed when inside centre Tom Foster was shown a red card for punching.

The resulting penalty was fired into touch on the right and from the superb line-out catch and drive, Gallacher ripped the ball from the rear of the maul to burrow his way over the line for Bicester’s fourth and bonus-point try.

Bicester were now in complete control and it was all over eight minutes from the end. Tom Horwood drove powerfully down the left side, and though Bicester then conceded a scrum to Stow, their forwards heeled against the head before a sweeping cross field handling move ended with winger Josh Young darting across in the right hand corner for a try which Dan Spencer also brilliantly converted.

Bicester are now in the middle of a three-week break. They return to action next weekend when they host Wallingford.

Bicester IIs were also victorious as Peter Howard’s hat-trick inspired them to a 27-25 victory over Tadley IIs.