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Oakham defeat Rugby after thrilling final minutes

A dramatic last ten minutes of the game saw Oakham claim a 22-20 victory over Rugby today.

The game had been locked at 15-15 since Oakham had scored an opportunistic try through their captain Frank Tufail-Smith early on in the second half before suddenly the game caught alight with only minutes remaining.

Rugby were cranking up the pressure and with the home faithful spurring them on it seemed likely that if anyone were to break the deadlock they would, however as a couple of penalty chances went begging it was Oakham who were to seize the initiative through a searing and dazzling break from their full back.

It took started on his own ten metre line and as he danced and weaved his way through would be tacklers the volume of the travelling support began to crescendo. Weaving now across the pitch to avoid the final Rugby defender he accelerated away to score brilliantly in the right hand corner.

It was to go get even better though as the difficult, and ultimately crucial, conversion sailed through from right over on the touchline to give the away side a 22-15 lead with just six minutes to go.

Rugby are a tough side though and in those final few minutes they absolutely charged into the Oakham defence, making valuable progress to set up a lineout in the Oakham 22.

Unfortunately the throw was deemed not straight but it mattered not, from the resultant scrum Rugby put the squeeze on enough for their men charging down the clearing kick to be on the front. They used that advantage brilliantly to charge down the kick inside the dead ball area, in the chaos that ensued it looked as though a try had been scored which the referee duly awarded, though our video suggests that a TMO would have been a handy addition.

A tough conversion to level the scores just sailed wide but that was not to be end of it; from the kick off Rugby initially conceded possession but did brilliantly to turn it back over before embarking on a crusade on the Oakham defence from inside their own 22.

They carried beautifully, marching into the away 22 and suddenly a sense of belief pervaded around the ground, it was on. However Oakham were not without belief of their own and brilliantly they secured a penalty turnover following some spectacularly committed defence, all that remained was to boot the ball into touch, which they duly did, and this most pulsating of games was won.

It was a magnificent comeback by Oakham, particularly having lost a couple of weeks ago to Bedford in a similarly close game.

Indeed Oakham would probably concede that in the first half Rugby had the better of things; they led 15-3 midway through the half and with young Harry Mallinder running the show, under the watchful eye of his father, and his big pack of forwards setting the platform they looked ready to kick on.

So for Rugby this will come as a bit of a blow, after wobbles against St Edward’s and Oundle they had bounced back well to beat Uppingham and Haileybury and were full of confidence heading into this one.

They should take solace in the fact that this was a magnificent game of rugby though and that either side could really have won it, Oakham just seized the momentum at the perfect moment in the game, perhaps inspired from that defeat to Bedford.

One thing is definitely certain though, it was a game of rugby fit for the setting; Rugby School, the home of the sport.

Final Score: Rugby 20-22 Oakham

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