Buckingham pip rivals Bicester in nail-biter

A Bicester attack is stopped. Pictures by Jake McNulty
A Bicester attack is stopped. Pictures by Jake McNulty

Buckingham kept themselves within touching distance of top spot in the Southern Counties North with a 12-10 win over local rivals Bicester in a fiercely competitive contest.

Buckingham took the honours in the first half, turning round 7-0 ahead, but Bicester responded aggressively in the second period and just before the end they might have snatched victory had Tom Miles been successful with a long-range penalty attempt.

Bicester did take the losing bonus-point, though, while Buckingham deserved the four points for their more solid effort in the scrums and line-outs.

The opening 40 minutes were a low-key affair with Buckingham scoring the only points of the half when, from a scrum in the centre, quick ball was recycled through the hands of Callum Gillie out wide to the left where winger James Hulston touched down in the corner for a try which was converted by full-back Jack Deal.

The home side could have had another try when they capitalised on Bicester’s malfunctioning line-out but Deal’s score was disallowed, which meant Buckingham went into the break 7-0 in front.

The second half opened with Buckingham kicking a penalty to the corner for a line-out, from which a superb catch and drive resulted in a try for Ewan Prime.

The visitors now led 12-0 but a period of Bicester pressure followed, during which good play by Dave Hampton, Mike Harris and Dan Spencer resulted in a scrum before slick handling down the left ended with Miles kicking over Bicester’s first points of the day.

And the visitors then hauled themselves right back into the game 12 minutes from time when a spectacular catch by Spencer in a line-out set up a powerful maul that saw Bicester charge over the try line with Gareth Evans touching down.

Miles added the extras to bring Bicester to within just two and almost immediately they had a chance to go in front when Spencer won a penalty but Miles could not get the required distance on his 38m kick which landed agonisingly short.

Bicester still refused to lie down and they almost scored again right at the death but Harris couldn’t get away and Buckingham clung on to victory.

Buckingham, who visit Bletchley this week, are now fifth, three points off leaders Reading, with Bicester two points further back in seventh.