Mannerians slump after a bright start

Bakewell Mannerians forward Tom Spencer secures the ball from a line-out in their loss against Oakham.
Bakewell Mannerians forward Tom Spencer secures the ball from a line-out in their loss against Oakham.

Bakewell Mannerians 1sts 9

Oakham 1sts 29

A GAME that started with promise for Mannerians ended abjectly, probably summarising the problems besetting the club right now.

This was the first clash between the two clubs and an air of anticipation shrouded the Lady Manners School pitch. Oakham were revealed to have a young, enthusiastic side but it was Max Crampton’s men who started with the more positive and creative play.

Indeed, for the first quarter, Mannerians enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and territory, but sages on the touchline were heard to mutter ‘yes, but unless we get a try soon, Oakham are going to know they’ve weathered it.’ And weather it they did, with Mannerians’ only reward being two well-struck penalties from the cultured boot of Will Moroney.

Meanwhile, Oakham were starting to build some phases, their strong running backs taking flat passes, at pace, from deep. This stretched the Bakewell side and soon earned the visitors a five-metre scrum, from which they claimed a rare pushover try.

Moroney added a further penalty to maintain the lead, but Oakham were clearly in the ascendancy.

Individually, players did have good games. Ben Sizer was again immense. Ethan Bagshawe had another fine game. His service seems to have become quicker and more precise and he has the eye for a gap that always keeps the opposition honest. And Rob Wells was the pick of the three quarters.

Tom Oldfield and Tom Crapper both came off their wings looking for action and Jack Duncan was always a threat. Alistair Gregory and James Turner put in good work in the loose and Tom Spencer was his usual troublesome self. But, as a team, the performance was loose, and Oakham converted another try to give them a 15-9 advantage.

Oakham’s defence remained resolute and this was to be the first time in several seasons that the Bakewell side failed to cross the line. By contrast, as fly-half Moroney pointed out, Oakham were playing with the kind of panache backed by solidity that typified their past few campaigns.

Despite Edward Armstrong being mysteriously sin-binned, Mannerians played with commitment without ever looking like scoring.

Towards the end though, the visitors extended their lead. Mannerians seemed to mark all the Oakham players who didn’t have the ball leaving the fellow who did with a relatively easy run-in. This pattern was repeated in the final play, leaving the home side looking for answers.