Oundle progressed to the last 32 of the NatWest Cup this afternoon after they beat Leicester Grammar School 22-5 in the last 16 this afternoon.
They now travel to Langley in the next round, where they will likely be favourites. Should they win that, the odds point towards a last 16 tie against perennial Cup giants Warwick, ahead of the quarter final redraw, unless King’s Worcester can find their form again and put in a strong performance at home.
Chants of ‘we’re going to Twickenham’ from the Oundle faithful were perhaps premature, but the sentiment was true. This is a fantastic Oundle side and it is going to take more than a good team to stop them getting at least as far as last year, it will take a good team playing their best rugby. Oundle have not lost since September against Bromsgrove, the holders, and while they may not be the flashy, score lots of tries, type, they are a team that can grind victories out with the best of them.
Those supporters, mentioned above, play their role too. This afternoon they produced a wall of sound that must have felt intimidating for Leicester Grammar, and a couple of on field scuffles near the most vociferous of support perhaps gave that some credence.
That said, once Leicester had settled in, they actually got off to the brighter start, scoring a try after ten minutes or so after they charged down a kick and openside Jasper Tordoff popped up to touch down.
Unfortunately for them, it was to be the first and last time that they breached the Oundle whitewash all afternoon.
Despite playing into a fierce wind, Oundle responded with three tries and an Angus McRae penalty as they put up a strong first half lead.
The first came from a spillage in midfield, before Oundle broke clear to level the scores. The next two came from what was to prove the basis of Oundle’s victory, a strong set piece, patient driving work, and an excellent maul.
Both came from penalties pumped into the corner and then a good drive from the lineout. The first saw the drive end up going to ground, but a few phases of good driving play allowed Tom Curry to release his winger, the second drive held all the way to the line, allowing the forwards to crash over.
All of which meant that Oundle went into the break 22-5 ahead, and now with that heavy wind at their backs.
Chatter on the touchline was of how with the wind behind them, they could now kick to the corners and use that strong tight play to build a big scoreline. However it was not to be, the second half was scoreless.
Oundle did have a few opportunities, and at one point it looked as though they had secured that fourth try, however McRae was adjudged to have made a double movement whilst trying to reach for the line down the left hand side.
The home side would probably be the first to admit that ill-discipline cost them a huge amount of field position in the second half, hampering their scoring chances. This was a not a day for running length of the field scores, particularly not on a very sticky pitch.
However great credit must also go to Leicester Grammar School, their performance stepped up enormously in the second half. Former Leicester Tigers, England, and British and Irish Lions scrum half Harry Ellis could be seen animatedly showing his team what they needed to change at half time, and it worked. Their breakdown discipline improved, and their work around the fringes kept Oundle under pressure in attack and defence.
Ultimately though, that 22-5 lead was never going to be overturned, and the home side always looked the more likely to score.
They will know that their discipline will need to improve as this competition progresses, yet as we opened this piece saying, they are one of the strongest sides in it and even the very best teams will find it tough to break them down.
They have an abrasiveness and physicality that few sides can match, and they match that with great tactical awareness and superb play in the tight. With a few flyers in the backline too, they can be a very difficult side to face indeed. Ten wins from twelve tells you just that.
Full time: Oundle 22-5 Leicester Grammar
You can see photos from the game, plus links to more on our facebook page in this Gallery: Oundle v Leicester Grammar.