Bulls thrash Henley to lift County Cup
Banbury Bulls remarkable season continues as they humble higher opposition for the second time in as many weeks to claim the Oxfordshire County title.
Iffley Road, Oxford – Wednesday 23rd March 2016
Here’s how the Oxford Mail’s Jack Johnson saw the evening unfold.
Banbury Bulls ended a 16-year wait to be crowned county champions as they convincingly beat Henley 2s 28-5 in the Oxfordshire Cup final at Iffley Road.
The Midlands 2 West (South) leaders continued their fine season by dominating their south Oxfordshire opponents in the opening half an hour and ultimately never looked back. Josh Deegan and Sean Bannister crossed in the first half, with Ed Phillips kicking 13 points. Martin Nutt went over just after the break for Henley, but Jimmy Manley's try sealed victory for Banbury.
The north Oxfordshire side got off to a good start, winning a penalty and kicking to touch. A catch an drive ensued, but Henley were penalised again and Phillips kicked a third-minute penalty for a 3-0 lead.
Henley’s ill disciplined start continued as they conceded another penalty on seven minutes which Phillips had no problem kicking over the posts. Andrew Grant was sin-binned for Henley in the 12th minute and their horrible start was further compounded when Philips kicked another penalty to make it 9-0.
The stop-start nature continued with Henley unable to make any ground without incurring the wrath of referee Phil Ware. Fourteen-man Henley defended manfully to prevent Banbury from breaking through and kept the score at 9-0 until the return of Grant despite being pinned inside their own ten metres. But pressure told on 24 minutes as Deegan collected Phillips's miss-pass to scorch over in the corner. Phillips converted from out wide to make it 16-0.
It was all Banbury and they scored a second try when a catch and drive on 30 minutes led to Bannister touching down. Phillips once again made a difficult kick look easy from the touchline for a 23-0 lead. For as hard as Henley were working they were unable to match their opponents in the scrum or their superior line speed. But good breaks from Nutt and George Primett saw them make good ground just before the break. And they had an opportunity to get on the scoreboard on the brink of half-time but Luke Govier's penalty attempt sailed wide.
Henley started the second half brightly and on 42 minutes they found space out wide and Nutt went over. Govier's conversion attempt dropped just wide. The south Oxfordshire side suddenly looked up for the fight and Banbury were having to do all the defending.
Henley were willing to be patient with the ball in hand, but after nearly 20 minutes inside their opponents' half they were unable to further reduce the deficit.
On 60 minutes, Jack Bradshaw was sin-binned for Henley and Banbury took advantage immediately as James Burge made good ground and Manley forced his way over. Phillips was unable to convert with his attempt hitting a post and the score remained at 28-5.
Henley wriggled out of their own half and refused to give up, but they were unable to prevent Banbury from ending their long wait for silverware.
Banbury Bulls: Joe Mills, Deegan, Walsh, Manley, Grieve, Stoop, Phillips (capt), Paniagua, Isham, Key, Burge, Brock, Jacob Mills, Bannister, Brand. Reps: Dymond, S Nutt, Page, Boyle, Daniels.
Henley 2s: Govier, M Nutt, Flynn (capt), Davies, Bailey, Bradford, Taylor, Jackson, Church, Primett, Scaife, Grant, Nixon, White, Bartlett.
Reps: MacCarthy, Beckett, Scott, Wiggins, Lewis.