It wasn’t vintage stuff from Oakham but they secured a vital win after coming from behind against arch rivals Melton last Saturday.
The Oaks’ 23-22 victory keeps them in the promotion play-off place ahead of Ashbourne and Dronfield but coach Tom Armstrong was unimpressed by the manner of the win.
Before the game, Armstrong had called on his side to spread the ball wide and use the speed of their three-quarters.
But, stuck on the smaller of Melton’s pitches, the Oaks failed to stick to their game plan.
“We played right into their hands, trying to play through the forwards,” said Armstrong, who was pitting his wits against a former mentor from his South Leicester and Tigers Academy days, Ian Smith.
“They have a decent pack and they are coached by Ian Smith - you’d expect them to be well drilled,” said the Oaks coach.
“Our discipline was poor. We kept giving away penalties just 5m out.
“If we had gone through the phases we could have taken 50 points.
“Somebody like Angus (Boyle) or Mark (Matthews) usually takes a grip of the game nobody seemed to do that while they played some of their best rugby of the season. It’s always going to be like that in a derby.”
Melton went ahead with an unconverted try after a quarter of an hour and had extended their lead with a penalty try before the Rutlanders were off the mark.
Fortunately for Oakham, Matthews kicked them back into contention with three penalties to reduce the deficit and the Oakham fly-half put his side in front for the first time with a try in the second half.
Oakham switched direction and Matthews drifted to score and kick the conversion.
Melton crossed over again to lead by a single point before scrum-half Joe Lunn rounded off several Oakham phases of play by picked up and scoring from 5m out.
Matthews’ conversion proved vital as Melton scored a late try unconverted try to pull the arrears back to a single point.
Oakham have a week off before hosting fourth-placed Dronfield at the Showground. Their game against leaders Coalville will be re-arranged due to Coalville’s cup commitments.
Oakham: Adam Price, Rhys Grieve, Ryan Corner, Phil Gant, James Beanland (Angus Boyle), Adam Downing, Carel Fourie (Martin Stimson), Ben Turnbull, Joe Lunn, Mark Matthews, James Padley, Owen Smith (Tom Armstrong), Adam Stimson, Will Armstrong.
Turn to page 38 for the latest results and league table.