Bulls Dig Deep To Keep Play-Off Hopes Alive !
Banbury Bulls turned around a 5-10 halftime score inside The DCS Stadium to run out 24-10 winner’s vs Royal Wootton Bassett. The Bulls strong second half performance helped to secure another crucial 5 points and cement second position in the table.
The DCS Stadium at Bodicote Park - Wednesday 11th of April 2018
Match report by Alex Inch, photos by Simon Grieve
RWB had won the reverse fixture making them one of 3 teams to have beaten the Bulls this season. Banbury might have hoped for an easy fixture with RWB having to travel a long way on a Wednesday night, but this soon proved not to be the case with a wonderful first half from RWB.
Banbury opened the scoring. RWB conceded a number of penalties allowing Banbury to have a lineout 5 metres out. RWB kept Banbury out but the pressure was building with carry after carry from the forwards. Eventually the pressure told, and Ian Isham was able to pick up from the base of a ruck and smash his way over in the corner. Joe Mills conversion attempt from the side-line fell just short but Banbury had an early lead, 5-0.
RWB had an immediate response when Banbury were penalised for running into the kicker. Thomas Fieldsend kicked the resulting penalty to narrow the lead to 5-3.
Banbury found themselves deep in the RWB 22 and the penalty count was rising for RWB. Eventually the referee had no option to pull out the yellow card for Finlay Dewar after the second deliberate knock on in as many minutes. Ian Isham looked like he’d crossed for his second try but the referee couldn’t see a clear grounding. RWB defended for their life’s and were rewarded when Banbury knocked on metres short of the try line.
It got even better for RWB before the break. RWB won a scrum 5 metres out and a couple phases later Christopher Rowland was running a brilliant line to smash his way over from close range. Thomas Fieldsend converted to give RWB a deserved 5-10 lead at half time.
The Bulls were much improved in the second half. Pete Boulton crashed over but again the referee couldn’t see a clear grounding. Luckily for Banbury they scored a couple phases later when Giles Saar continued his great form from last Saturday to smash his way over from close range. Joe Mills converted to give Banbury the lead, 12-10.
Ian Isham and Angus Johnson combined for a neat lineout move to take Banbury from the edge of the 22 to within a metre of the RWB try line. Banbury worked the ball inwards and eventually the pressure told when Nick Pratt crashed over under the posts. Joe Mills converted to increase the lead to 19-10.
Jone Waqanidrola saw yellow for RWB when he stopped a certain try. Joe Mills chipped to the corner and Jack Briggs looked like he was about to touchdown in the corner before being tackled off the ball. An obvious yellow card but it did leave the Banbury supporters wondering why it wasn’t a penalty try.
Banbury went for a scrum from the previous penalty and looked like they were about to score before Joseph Pettit kicked the ball out the scrum. Another yellow card for RWB and another penalty to Banbury. The Bulls kept the pressure up and went for another scrum. Angus Johnson picked up from the back of the scrum, passed to Joe Mills down the blindside who quickly shipped the ball on to Jack Briggs who dived over in the corner. Joe Mills conversion attempt fell short, but Banbury had secured the try bonus point, 24-10.
Banbury looked to extend the lead with the two-man advantage but were probably trying to force things a bit too much. RWB defended well and still looked dangerous with the ball in hand. Both teams came close late on, but the score remained unchanged until the final whistle. A massive five points for Banbury that opened the gap to 3rd and puts the pressure on Old Patesians with two games to go. Banbury weren’t at their best in the first half but RWB were particularly impressive. Even when they were down 24-10 and down two players RWB never let their heads drop. Joe Mills was selected as Banbury’s Man of the Match. The scrum half looked dangerous all evening, making smart decisions and kicking well.
Speaking to Head Coach Matt Goode after the game:
Not the best performance of the season but a massive 5 points, is that what matters at this stage? “We’ve got a lot of tired legs, I thought RWB played some really great rugby. Where they are in the league doesn’t reflect how good they are. I don’t think we were very good in the first 40 minutes. We asked some questions of ourselves in the changing room at halftime. We came out in that second half and we performed, we played our patterns and got a big 5 points.”
What was the basis of the half time team talk, was it we need to improve or more we need to mix things up, changes the patterns etc? We made too many individual errors, we came out of our patterns and it was about getting back into those. We’ll grind teams down. We’re good after 5-6 phases and we needed to look after that ball. When we did that we were fine.”
Just how difficult is it to win 16 games in a row just from a mental stand point? “16 games is a fantastic achievement but we keep focusing on each individual match. We make sure we don’t get complacent, keep playing the brand of rugby we want to do. I think we’ve got 4 or 5 different ways we can play and its hard for teams to nullify us.”
It’s the last home game of the season on Saturday, how much will you be looking to put on a show/good performance? “I think the whole club and support we get is phenomenal. I think that has been the 16th man. We’ve got 16 wins and it feels like we’ve got 16 players on the pitch. You can hear them all over the pitch and it lifts you. It’s a pleasure to play out there. From the Chairman all the way down to us as players we’re pulling in the right direction and we appreciate the support from everyone.”
Try Scorers: Ian Isham, Giles Saar, Nick Pratt and Jack Briggs.
15. Tommy Gray (Sponsored by: Edd Frost & Daughters)
14. Jack Briggs
13. Jimmy Manley (Sponsored by: Godiva Insurance)
12. Matt Goode (Sponsored by: Hook Norton Crop Consultancy)
11. Dan Brady
10. Sam Stoop (Sponsored by: H Colegrave & Son)
9. Joe Mills (Sponsored by: DTC International)
1. Ken Key (Sponsored by: Lockwoods Ski and Outdoor)
2. Ian Isham (Captain) (Sponsored by: Fieldcraft)
3. Pete Boulton (Sponsored by: BRUFC SAGA Department)
4. Kallum Dixey
5. Sam Carr-Archer
6. Giles Saar (Sponsored by: Jamie Briggs Removals & Storage)
7. Angus Johnson
8. Chris Phillips (Sponsored by: Lorne Alway)
16. Stephen Potter
17. Nick Pratt
18. Tom Burman