Error-strewn Bicester undone by table-topping Tadley

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Bicester suffered their first defeat in six matches on Saturday, when they were comfortably beaten 23-5 by runaway leaders Tadley.

Tadley, aided by a strong wind and several basic Bicester errors, turned round with a virtually unassailable 20-0 lead, and while the visitors did well to restrict the home side to just one penalty in the second half, they scored only one try in the closing stages when Tadley were reduced to 13 men.

The Bicester scrum was again solid, but their line-out misfired at times and they conceded eight penalties in the crucial second period as Tadley used the wind more effectively with a series of high punts down the centre and tactical kicks that saw them seize control from the off.

After only two minutes, Bicester failed to clear their lines close to the 22-metre line on the left and as Tadley drove on, they were awarded a penalty that Craig Raymond slotted over.

Raymond was only just wide of the posts with another attempt moments later, but Tadley did extend their lead when Bicester were penalised for failing to release the ball and the home side fired the ball into the right corner where scrum-half Jake Cottrell touched down.

The league leaders continued to dominate both on the pitch and the scoreboard, increasing their lead further through winger Gareth Cripps-Jones, who finished off a slick Tadley counter-attack, before Ben Anderson stretched over for a third try, converted by Raymond, to put the hosts in complete command at the interval.

Bicester were much-improved in a more even second period, with James Holton almost going over for a try, before a tremendous surge down field by Dave Ahu-Gooch ended with Holton creating the overlap to send winger Rob Arthur across for Bicester’s only score.

Tadley still had time to respond, though, as Raymond kicked over his second penalty to make sure of the points.

Bicester, who remain second in the BBO Premier, have no fixture this weekend but the IIs host Windsor IIIs while the Colts take on Reading.