New home, new league and a good old-fashioned victory for Oakham RFC

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Oakham kicked off life at their new home and in a new league with a 20-10 victory over Market Harborough on Saturday.

After a summer 
re-structuring of the leagues, Oakham were moved into the highly competitive Midlands Two East North but on Saturday they showed that under the tutelage of their new, highly experienced, coach Ian ‘Dosser’ Smith they will be a match for anyone.

Playing at their new Rutland Showground home, Oakham went behind in unfortunate circumstances in the first half.

After 20 minutes a crossfield kick got an awkward bounce and was gathered by Harborough winger Laurence Joel who cut throw the Oakham defence to finish well. He then added the extras.

Oakham reduced the deficit before half-time with a Mark Matthews penalty.

After the break, the Oaks began to impose themselves on the game and scored two tries to take the lead.

Freddie Cracknell, who has stepped up from the Colts over the summer along with Frank Smith and Ed Gomm, crossed the line for the Oaks after some quick thinking.

The utility back came on as a replacement at scrum half and scored through a quick tap penalty.

His forwards had done the hard work, pounding their way towards the line and Cracknell caught the complacent Harborough defence napping to dart in.

Man of the match Henry Conen also scored from a setpiece move. He finished a fine break well to give the home side the score their dominance deserved.

Fly half Matthews converted both efforts and struck two penalties to finish with an important 10 points.

Oakham came out for the second half with a greater sense of urgency and this was rewarded with a converted try on 50 minutes to edge ahead 10-7.

Harborough hit back immediately to levle through a Joel penalty.

With everything to play for, it was Oakham who were in the ascendancy, pinning Harborough in their own half for long periods.

This pressure resulted in another penalty, then a well-crafted try took them into a 20-10 lead.

Harborough fought hard to get back into the game but without success.

Coach Tom Armstrong said: “It was pleasing because they were a mid table side last season in this league and we dominated their scrum which was good because what worries me most in this league is there are some big packs.

“Ian Smith has been working on scrum and on the maul as well which went really well.”

Armstrong said despite the opposition having the advantage in size and weight in the pack, his players beat them through better technique, using lower body positions to generate power and earn a couple of important turnovers.

He added: “We have got what it takes to have a good season and now it is down to the lads, how much they come to training and how much they take on board what Dosser [Ian Smith] is saying as to whether we have a great season.”

Oakham are away to Northampton Old Scouts on Saturday.