Oakham thrash St Neots after scoring 74 points in Midlands 3 East (South) clash
Oakham continued their recent run of fine form to maintain the pressure on Midlands 3 East (South) leaders Stamford with a convincing victory at St Neots on Saturday.
The emphatic 74-10 win keeps Oakham within three points of the table-toppers after a fifth successive league victory.
Their winning streak has produced 242 points in the last five games and leaves them well-placed for the remainder of the campaign.
On a dry blustery day, they arrived at St Neots to find the wind blowing straight down a pitch which was heavy but not too wet.
Oakham kicked off with the wind behind knowing that, with such a strong advantage, they would have to post a good score in the first half to get anything out of the game.
In the first few minutes Oakham’s defence was tested by St Neots but held firm and then turned the ball over, allowing hooker Rhys Grieve to break away before handing it to Callum Crellin to send wing Chris Yarrow over for an early score in the corner.
With 15 minutes played number eight James Beanland cut through to be held up over the line.
From the ensuing scrum Beanland was not to be denied as he picked up and drove over for a score which was converted by Callum Crellin for a 0-12 lead.
Beanland was in on the act again shortly after as, following an Oakham line-out, the ball was moved left then back right, stretching the hosts defence and finding Beanland in space to cross for his second try which made it 0-17 after 22 minutes.
St Neots were making Oakham work hard for their points but the visitors were settling into a pattern and their scrum was once again dominant, giving number eight Beanland space to break away once again.
He offloaded to Crellin whose dummy split the hosts defence before passing to support and then getting on the end of a sweeping move to score near the posts, He converted his own try which made 0-24 on 25 minutes.
The Oaks, despite being in control of the game, were still occasionally tested by their hosts and had to be on their defensive mettle to prevent St Neots getting a toehold back into the game.
When in possession the Oaks were running the ball at every opportunity with Matt Lamin enjoying a fine game at scrum half with his fast and accurate passes allowing the backs time and space.
Centre Charlie McKee was next to score as he stepped inside the opponent’s drift defence to score an unconverted try.
The last 10 minutes of the first half saw Oakham playing their best rugby by offloading and support play from forwards and backs running their opponents ragged.
Further tries were added by centre Jimmy Rosillo and wing Ben Shepherd with Crellin making one conversion to leave the half-time score at an impressive 0-41.
Despite having the wind in their favour, Oakham had chosen not to kick but to run the ball from everywhere so the second half promised to be a different story with the hosts expected to use the strong wind to kick and pin the Oaks deep.
However, it did not turn out that way, as Oakham were dominating possession by creating attacking more opportunities as fly-half Crellin chip-kicked through the onrushing St Neots defence allowing full back Will Armstrong to gather the bouncing ball and cross for a try which Crellin then converted.
Oakham were then guilty of some sloppy play as they conceded a score as a sliced clearance kick went straight to a St Neots player and, after several carries, the hosts managed to breach the Oakham line.
This spurred the hosts on and they looked likely to add to their score before full-back Armstrong intercepted a pass deep in his own 22 to run the length of the pitch to score a try converted by Crellin to make it 5-55.
St Neots were taking advantage of some over-confident and sloppy play by Oakham before coach Alun Meadows decided to ring the changes by bringing on his substitutes which included 17-year-old Will Andrews for his first team debut.
Crellin was moved to scrum half allowing Will Andrews - son of former coach Tim Andrews - to take over at fly half.
Andrews looked comfortable after overcoming some early nerves and was quickly into his stride, supporting an Armstrong break to receive the offload and, to the delight of his team-mates, cross for his maiden try within minutes of coming onto the pitch. It was converted by Crellin to make the score 5-62.
St Neots scored a further try before Oakham replied with another by Conor Stewart which made it 10-67.
Beanland then finally managed to get his hat-trick as, in the dying moments, the Oaks hammered away at the line before being awarded a scrum.
The pack drove forward and Beanland touched down for a try converted by Crellin to make it 10-74 as the final whistle blew.
It was a superb performance by Oakham with hard work by the back row duo of Mitchell and Haughton creating quick ball to allow the Oaks to display some excellent attacking skills.
Sterner tests await soon, but Oakham are beginning to gel and play as a team and looking forward to the remainder of the season.