Oakham RFC secured a memorable win over Leicester Forest thanks to a last minute score from try machine James Beanland but they were made to sweat with some late drama.
Oakham ran out 27-25 winners away at Forest in the Midlands Two East South division.
Beanland crossed for his 11th try in five matches but Oakham still gave the hosts the chance to snatch the victory in a thrilling game. With just seconds left on the clock Oakham knocked on the restart handing Forest a put in at the scrum. Their sizable pack won a penalty giving their fly-half a chance to break Oakham hearts but his effort was off target and the final whistle blew to huge relief.
Oakham are now up to sixth in the league after back-to-back wins, having beaten Dunstablians 18-14 in their last outing on March 7.
Coach Tom Armstrong said: “We deserved it. It could have gone either way. To be honest before the game I think we would have been happy with a losing bonus point because Leicester Forest is a hard place to go to and most people don’t come away with anything.”
Armstrong said the victory was built on defence and they never let their heads drop even when the home side were rallying in the second half.
He said: “It shows how much the lads wanted it, we could easily have folded but people were throwing their bodies about.”
Oaks started with the natural advantage, playing down the slope and with the wind in their favour but despite that Forest opened the scoring with a penalty.
One of Oakham’s most potent weapons all season has been the maul and despite playing against a considerably bigger pack they put it to good use once again.
The opening score came from a maul, set in motion from a line out. Beanland took the ball at the back of the set piece and broke off to score.
Australian debutant James King was next to cross the line. Again the pack made the hard yards with the maul and the scrum half went on quick pick and go to get over the line.
Oaks fly-half Mark Matthews converted both.
The third try of the match game on the counter-attack. A loose kick was gathered by fullback Will Armstrong who ran it back, put the ball through the hands and Adam Stimpson touched down.
Oakham looked to be heading into the break with a 19-3 lead but the hosts scored in the corner with an unconverted try. The question was whether Oakham had made enough of their advantage with the slope and wind.
Leicester Forest’s huge pack were beginning to dominate and they were given a penalty try after the Oaks pack succumbed to the pressure. They crossed for their third try of the day and the conversion gave them a 22-19 lead.
Oaks fly-half Mark Matthews, who has so often been the match winner for his side this season, dragged them level with a penalty for 22-22 but Forest responded with a kick of their own to retake the lead.
It was the quick thinking of King which created the final score for Beanland, taking a quick tap penalty and darting off down-field before offloading to his winger to touch down for what proved to be the winning score.
Oakham host fourth placed Lutterworth this Saturday in their penultimate league game of the season and their last at home, looking for a win to maintain their position in the top half of the table.