Oakham under-15s were ultimately defeated 44-22 by Oadby Wyggs in a feisty, incident-packed encounter at The Showground at the weekend.
Playing into a gale, Oaks were initially pinned back into their 22 and conceded from a line-out catch and drive in the opening minutes.
Oadby’s heavyweight pack dominated possession in the loose but good feet from fly-half Hamish Merriman provided an opportunity for Oaks to break out which was lost to a turnover.
Into the wind, Oaks’ attempts to kick clear proved futile and Oadby twice capitalised to extend their lead.
Strong carrying from centre James Peachey and wing Matt Betts then provided some breathing space as Oaks’ scrum supplied good ball.
But under pressure, Oaks’ defensive line buckled again as Oadby established a convincing half-time lead.
With the wind behind them and buoyed by the introduction of a strong bench, Oaks responded dramatically after the break.
First flanker Luke Griffiths finished from close range following a strong surge from lock Freddie Davies.
With Oaks’ controlling field position and flanker Eddie Loring tenacious at the breakdown, Oadby repeatedly infringed around the contact area and prop Felix Tordoff capitalised to drive over the line on the blindside.
A break-out score arrested Oaks’ momentum but with centre Josh Lewis kicking accurately, James Moody scored Oaks’ third try with a burst from midfield.
As Oaks pushed forward again, No 8 Connor Griggs was held up under the posts and with tension rising Oadby lost discipline, losing men to red and yellow cards.
An Oaks player was also sin-binned following an off-the-ball melee but from the restart Davies powered through three defenders to score Oaks’ fourth.
Inevitably, energy levels dropped and Oaks lost possession pushing for the equaliser.
Further long-range scores by Oadby in the closing minutes were scant reward for an outstanding second-half fightback by the spirited home team.