Rusty Oaks target second spot

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A rusty Oaks side claimed their win but missed out on a bonus point as they returned to action after a stop-start couple of months.

Tom Armstrong’s side won 18-6 at Aylestone St James on Saturday but a lack of regular matches since late November may have cost them a vital point in their push for promotion.

Armstrong reckons leaders Coalville are already too far ahead for the chasing pack to catch but second spot - and a potential play-off for promotion - is a realistic target for Oakham.

“That’s what we are aiming for,” said the Oakham coach.

“It’s going to hard because there is a group of teams all close together but I know we can do it.

“We are only side to beat Coalville this season and can go the rest of the season unbeaten if we play at our best.

“Now it’s a question of getting on a roll after all the disruption we’ve had.”

The Oaks host Leicester Forest at the Showground on Saturday with the visitors just four points adrift of fourth-placed Oakham.

“It’s a game for us,” said Armstrong. “If we can beat them it will open up a little bit of a gap.

“It will be a tough game. They have an old pack but a good front row. If we try to score off first phase it won’t work - we have to work on that at training.”

Oakham had a free week set aside for cup games and then lost games due to the weather and the withdrawal of Sleaford from the league.

On Saturday Oakham went behind to an early penalty before James Beanland scored the first of Oakham’s two tries. Mark Matthews converted but a second Jimmies’ penalty left the score at 7-6 to the Oaks at the interval.

Matthews kicked two second half penalties to open up a lead and Adam Stimson touched down in the corner to secure a victory.

“We were a bit rusty,” admitted Armstrong. “We should have taken a bonus point at a side that is bottom of the table.

“It’s good to start the year with a win but we should have got more but, after playing only one game in six weeks, we were slow at the breakdown and some of the decisions we made were poor.”

Armstrong has been boosted by the arrival of new faces to strengthen the squad and added: “A few new lads have been coming to training and they are looking good.

“Availability is the key.”

Kick of at the Showground on Saturday is at 2.15pm.

Oakham: Adam Price, Alum Meadows (Ryan Corner), Rhys Grieve, Andrew Wallace, Phil Gant, Carel Fourie (Martyn Stimson), Adam Downing, Ben Turnbull, Joe Lunn, Mark Matthews, Tom Armstrong, Corey Archard, James Beanland (Ollie Easson), Adam Stimson, Will Armstrong.

Oakham’s U16s narrowly lost to arch rivals Stamford, 14-12 on Sunday.

Oakham got off to a good start, scoring first with a converted try to take a seven point lead before their hosts levelled.

Oakham restored their lead before half-time but were pegged back in a second half which became a defensive duel.