Oakham secured a brilliant 38-7 victory over Berkhamsted to progress to the last 16 of the Champions Trophy this afternoon.
The game was played in unfamiliar surroundings as Oakham’s famous Doncaster Close 1st XV pitch is being updated, meaning the game was on a smaller back pitch.
Nevertheless, a huge crowd was in attendance to support the home side, as always, and they helped drive their side to an excellent victory.
It was not the relatively simple stroll that the scoreline suggests though. Berkhamsted are a very good side, and they really made Oakham work for this victory. The home side were up to the challenge though, building a narrow and hard earned 11-7 lead at the break.
That lead came through a two penalties from Oakham’s outstanding fly half Josh Lewis, and a lovely try from full back Hamish Merriman that saw great interchanges of passes between his fly half and inside centre before he scythed through.
Berkhamsted gave Oakham plenty to think about in between though with a superb try of their own through their own fly half, who from first phase ball arced around the Oakham defence with great speed to score a magical individual score, which he converted himself.
After the break though the tide of the game changed, the two time NatWest Cup champions really turned the heat up on their opponents with a supreme linespeed and tenacity in defence. That tenacity and pace secured them two intercept tries, one for fly half Lewis, and one for his inside centre Archie Summer.
Lewis’ finished the game off with five minutes to spare, but there were two other tries that were beautifully created by the home side.
The first came from their left winger, Tyrese Johnson-Fisher, who became a YouTube sensation last year after his try scoring exploits in the U15 NatWest Vase.
He switched from the left wing to the right in the second half and was rewarded for that after 12 minutes of the half after some simple handling put him through in the corner.
Summer’s intercept try followed that, before another simple but well worked try put the home side even further clear. This time it was two substitutes who worked the scores, with Seb Davies, on at scrum half, breaking down the blind side of the scrum from halfway, before releasing replacement winger Luccas Lovatt to show some staggering gas down the right for what proved an easy finish, with his pace.
The second intercepted rounded off what was a stunning second half performance, one that suggests that Oakham will be a real threat to whichever side is drawn against them in the last 16, home or away.
Berkhamsted will feel hard done by on the scoreboard, but came up against a side whose tenacity in defence was just too difficult to unpick on the night, and the pressure it created offered Oakham an excellent attacking platform on top of it.
Full Time: Oakham 38-7 Berkhamsted
You can see photos from the game on our Facebook Page here: Gallery – Oakham v Berkhamsted.
For a full roundup of the days play, please follow this link: Champions Trophy Round 1