Oakham unable to adapt to mud-bath conditions in away defeat
Oakham were unable to adapt to the conditions as they suffered a 17-12 defeat on a mud-bath of a pitch at Pinley on Saturday.
Their hosts might have been bottom of the Midlands 2 East (South), but Pinley’s recent home record showed they would not be an easy proposition on their own patch.
In their last three home games, they had a draw, victory and narrow loss to the league leaders to their name and knew how to play the conditions which were not conducive to running rugby.
In the early exchanges Pinley showed Oakham how to play the conditions, putting little chip kicks and up-and-unders for their forwards to chase.
From a scrum on halfway Pinley attempted a back row move which was read by Callum Crellin who intercepted the pass and made good ground before chipping ahead.
Oakham were awarded a penalty as Crellin was taken out off the ball. From the lineout the visitors set up a series of drives and then moved the ball for centre Will Armstrong to cut through the defence before handing on to the supporting Angus Collet to cross for a try.
The conversion was added by Crellin to give Oakham an early 7-0 lead.
Pinley stuck to their game-plan and were rewarded as, from a kick deep into their 22, Oakham attempted to run the ball when a kick to touch would have been the better option in the conditions.
Realising their mistake Oakham then attempted a kick which was sliced up into the air. Pinley seized on the ball and ran in under the posts for a converted try to make it 7-7 with 20 minutes played.
Oakham did not learn their lesson, again trying to run out of defence and only kicking when they were under pressure.
As a result, they were hurried into a poor kick and then penalised for players in front of the kicker.
The penalty was well converted by Pinley and Oakham found themselves trailing 10-7.
The Oaks responded but were unable to convert chances into points as the first half ended.
The second half started as the first with Pinley employing a kicking game and, with seven minutes gone, they were awarded a penalty which they kicked to touch.
From the lineout Pinley drove straight through the Oakham defence for a try which was well converted in the difficult conditions to lead 17-7.
Oakham responded by employing a series of driving mauls to make headway deep into Pinley’s 22..
The Oaks then laid siege to Pinley’s line but were unable to penetrate a stubborn defence until Crellin, with a dummy pass from the base of the ruck, created space to dive over for a try.
The conversion was missed but Oakham were back in the game.
The play descended into a trial of strength in the middle of the pitch with both sets of forwards slipping and sliding around and neither side gaining any advantage.
The conditions curtailed Oakham’s natural running game as they appeared to be running out of ideas.
With 15 minutes to go another kick by Pinley saw them camp close to Oakham’s line with the visitors defending a series of drives but they then managed to successfully turn the ball over to relieve the pressure.
Going into the last five minutes Oakham were awarded a series of penalties as the pressure started to tell on Pinley.
The resulting kicks took them deep into Pinleys 22 but, try as they might, the Oaks could not break the home defence.
As the final whistle blew the Pinley players celebrated wildly and a dejected Oakham were left to reflect on their lack of ability to play the conditions. It was a poor pitch but Pinley knew how to play on it and Oakham couldn’t adapt.