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Oakham suffer heartbreaking defeat as Captain Smith shines again

Oakham have had a tough start two season with only one win from their opening three games, as slow starts have twice cost them against Stowe and Bedford. Once into their stride though, they have looked a threatening side with captain Ruaraidh Smith looking particularly dangerous.

A tough game against Warwick, albeit at home, was not therefore what the Rutland side were looking for. With their rugby heritage though, they were never going to back down, and with quality from the likes of Smith, Ollie Allman and Frank Tufail-Smith, they knew they had weapons of their own.

Oakham hooker, Max Russell, reports:

Oakham’s next big challenge after the Bedford game was against Warwick, who were a very strong team with a large, well drilled pack and an explosive back line.

 

Oakham started off somewhat half hearted, which resulted in a period of sustained pressure in the opening ten minutes. Warwick put Oakham in trouble, through both set pieces and in open play by their very high intensity.

 

That high intensity lent to them making silly mistakes and giving away a penalty which was converted by Ollie Allman. Eventually though, Warwick broke through a couple of poor defensive tackles in our own half, leading to an early unconverted try.

 

The cracks began to show in Oakham’s game as penalties were given against them.  Warwick took their chance to go into half time with a lead of 8-3.

 

The second half saw a bit more of a bite in Oakham’s game. Using their pace and vision out wide they were able to gain some commanding territory which lead to captain Ruaraidh Smith bursting over for a try, this was soon followed by two penalties.

 

Sloppy mistakes began to creep back into Oakham’s game though and the Warwick kicker slotted a couple of penalties, thanks to his enormous boot.

 

In the dying minutes of the game Oakham led the match 16-14 which showed Warwick increase the fight in their game. Oakham’s scrambling defence slowly began to crack, giving away a couple kickable penalties, these though were missed and gave Oakham a lifeline.

 

In the last play of the game Oakham gave Warwick’s kicker a chance to redeem himself with a kick from the half way line in the strong winds. The pressure did not get to the kicker and he gave Warwick the win.

 

This was a game that Oakham were lucky to have come close to a win, and can take away with them a couple of great passages of play and lots to work on in training next week.

 

Final Score: Oakham 16-17 Warwick

The result will be a tough one for Oakham to take, coming as it did in the last play of the game, but as Russell says, they can take away a lot from this, knowing that they had done enough to get in position for a win against a strong Warwick side.

As ever the problem for Oakham was in their slow start to the game, by not really being in a position to compete in the opening exchanges of games, they are robbing themselves of time and opportunities.

It is an encouraging result though, and while fingers may point to the number of penalties given away, the truth is that under the kind of pressure Oakham found themselves under at times, it is better to give away penalties than try’s, and almost impossible not to give away anything.

Expect to see this Oakham side start to collect wins over the next few games as their confidence builds and they start to build 80 minute performances.

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