Houghton’s hat-trick haul helps Oakham to convincing victory
Oakham got their Midlands 2 East (South) campaign back on track on Saturday with a 58-8 victory over Coventry side Pinley in the first-ever encounter between the two clubs.
Oakham, who had lost their last two games after their derby victory over Stamford, won the toss and decided to play into the strong blustery wind.
Pinley caught Oakham napping with a clever kick off and had the Oaks back-peddling in the early stages before being awarded a penalty with only three minutes gone to take a 3-0 lead.
Oakham were stung into action and from the kick off won possession with back row forwards James Beanland and Ben Turnbull making inroads into the Pinley defence before recycling to fly half Callum Crellin who cut through the defence dummying and side stepping his way to score under the posts before converting his own try.
The home side were beginning to find gaps in the Pinley defence as they played an offloading game to which the visitors had no answer.
The Oaks increased their lead as Ben Turnbull again powered his way almost to the line before being tackled just short. The ball was quickly recycled to the supporting Nick Houghton to score in the corner unconverted against the strong wind for a 12-3 advantage.
Further slick handling and support play saw Houghton cross for his second try to give Oakham a 17-3 lead.
This was quickly followed by another Turnbull break as he and Houghton exchanged passes before Turnbull went over for a 22-3 lead with only 23 minutes played.
Pinley then fought back as they went blind from a ruck and their wing crossed in the corner for an unconverted try to reduce the arrears to 22-8.
Oakham, however, were not about to let Pinley back into the game as they broke out from defence with Dan Cousens and Stu Hunter inter-passing their way down the touchline before the final pass went to ground with an open run to the line beckoning for what would have been a terrific score.
Forwards and backs then linked together, continuing to offload in the tackle, before Will Armstrong ran a great line to cut through the defence before offloading toHunter for a very well-worked score.
George Scott, making his first team debut, then made a storming break through the middle before finding flanker Houghton in support to carry the move on.
Houghton was brought down just short before popping the ball up to Armstrong for another great try on the stroke of half-time to make the interval score 32-8.
Oakham’s coach Alun Meadows urged his team to not to let up and, although now playing with the wind, keep the ball in hand.
They took heed of their coach’s advice and from the start exerted pressure on Pinley with a series of forward drives offloading in the tackle to create space for Scott to power over the line. This was converted by Crellin for a 39-8 advantage with five minutes of the second half played.
Oakham were now running a rapidly tiring Pinley defence ragged as they switched play from side to side twice, attacking left before quickly switching to the right where prop Chris Carr delivered a neat backhand pass for hooker Rhys Grieve to score.
Pinley had no answer to Oakham’s quick game and full back Cousens was put away on the counter attack and looked likely to score before being hauled down just short.
But, with the ever-present support from flanker Houghton, they managed to pop the ball up for Houghton to score his hat-trick that was converted by Crellin.
The moment of the match came shortly after as another slick break by the Oakham backs was switched inside to the supporting forwards.
Further inter-passing saw lock Russell Hopkins galloping towards the line. Not used to being in such wide-open spaces and, on seeing the undefended try line looming, Hopkins decided to pass the ball to a supporting player who was so surprised he promptly dropped it.
Oakham finished the day off with Crellin popping a shirt ball to Armstrong who broke through the defence to score under the posts.
Back row forward Turnbull decided to end the proceedings by making the conversion with a drop goal.