Brave Bulls Just Miss Out On Promotion !
Despite a brilliant effort it proved to be one game too many for the Banbury Bulls. Exeter University overturned a 3 point deficit at half time to run out 42-31 winners.
Saturday 28th of April at Topsham Sport Ground, Exeter.
Match report by Alex Inch, photos by Simon Grieve
Due to Exeter University finishing on 114 points compared to Banbury’s 112, Exeter University were the home side for the playoff. The Bulls made the trip down Friday night and it was brilliant to see so many Banbury supporters make the trip down to Exeter as well.
Exeter flew out the blocks and went into an early lead. Banbury produced some brilliant goal line defending but Exeter were ruthless with carry after carry. Simon Linsell was stopped narrowly short, but James McRae picked and went from the base of the ruck to score under the posts. Ted Landry added the extra’s to give Exeter the early 7-0 lead.
It was barely 10 minutes into the game and Exeter were in again. Banbury were punished for offside and Exeter kicked to the corner. George Gosling found his man in the resulting lineout before gathering the ball at the back of the rolling maul and eventually touching the ball down out to the right. Ted Landry converted to make it 14-0 to Exeter.
Ed Phillips kicked Banbury back into the game with a penalty after Exeter failed to roll away at the breakdown, 14-3. The Bulls got their first try of the match with some brilliant work from the pack. From a lineout Banbury took a rolling maul from outside the 22 all the way to the try line.
Ian Isham was stopped inches short, but one phase later the ball was whipped out to Angus Johnson who did well to step his man and stretch out for a try. Ed Phillips converted to make it 14-10.
Banbury thought they had their first lead of the game when another rolling maul crossed the try line, but the referee indicated the ball had been held up. It didn’t hold Banbury back for long though. From the resulting 5 metre scrum, Ed Phillips passed to Sam Stoop who popped the ball up for Matt Goode who was running a lovely line to run in untouched under the posts. Ed Phillips converted to make it 14-17 at the half time whistle.
Exeter came out in the second half fired up and a couple tactical tweaks made them look very dangerous. Whilst Banbury can’t argue the result the first try of the second half was a frustrating one from Banbury’s point of view. Exeter had a lineout on the halfway line which wasn’t thrown in straight and there was also an argument for crossing just afterwards. Neither decision went Banbury’s way though. Ted Landry took full advantage to burst his way through the Banbury line, before brilliantly stepping his way past the last man to score just to the right of the posts. Ted Landry picked himself up to convert his own try and put Exeter back in the lead, 21-17.
Exeter extended their lead with a try from deep, breaking to the edge of the Banbury 22. Exeter used dummy runners the whole game very well and it was another try where it could have gone a different way. Angus Johnson was run into by a dummy runner and Dom Thorne snuck his way through the gap to score out to the left. Hard to say if he’d have made the tackle or not but in a game of fine margins it was another one that didn’t go Banbury’s way. Ted Landry converted to make it 28-17.
Sam Stoop got Banbury back into the game in bizarre circumstances. Pouncing on a loose pass Sam Stoop kicked through and it looked one hundred percent that the ball was going to roll out into touch in the Exeter 22. Max Himbury tried to shield the ball out, but Sam Stoop got boot to ball again and this time chased his kick down to score out wide to the right. Ed Phillips converted to make it 28-24.
Exeter responded almost immediately though. Banbury conceded a couple of penalties and found themselves defending for their lives on their own try line. Once Exeter had sucked in enough defenders they whipped the ball wide and Dom Thorne crossed for his second try out to the left. Ted Landy converted to increase the lead to 35-24.
Exeter extended the lead late on. Another rolling maul was stopped just short of the line, but Simon Linsell picked up from the base of the ruck and did well to drive way over from close range. Ted Landry converted to make it a perfect day for himself with the boot, 42-24.
Banbury picked up a late consolation try. Ed Philips and Sam Stoop got the ball down the blindside before passing on to Ian Isham who did well to smash his way over from close range. Ed Phillips converted to mean both kickers finished with 100% records from the kicking tee. The final score being 42-31.
Not the result Banbury were looking for, but it was an incredible effort from the Bulls. Words won’t do justice to how hard Banbury tried, putting their bodies on the line for the full 80 minutes. The two tries at the start of the second half were frustrating from a Banbury perspective but credit must be given to Exeter University, they played some brilliant rugby and deserved the victory. A harsh lesson for Banbury but one game doesn’t undo what has been an incredible season for the Bulls. Some of the rugby this year has been incredible, and we look forward to what next season brings.
Speaking to Matt Goode after game:
42-31, not the result we were after, but I think you can be incredibly proud of the boys today? “Yeah, words fail me for how much effort the boys put in but they’re a young side, a good side and fitness sort of prevailed in the end. On a different track it may have been different, its hard because we’ve lost but the boys played immensely well, and we came up against a really good side. I think the score line show what a competitive and great game it was.”
Does this motivate you more for next year, looking for promotion? “We’ll build on what we’ve achieved this year and we’ll be looking at strategies for next year. We’ll strengthen the club and we want to be competing for those top 2 positions again next year. We’ll have a big rest and make sure we’re fully ready to go next season.”
Despite the result today does this exceed expectations for this season? “Absolutely, we’ve played some cracking rugby over the season, the supporters have been so loyal all year. If we’d have came out today and not performed I’d have been really disappointed. The performance was there we were just beaten by a better side. I wish Exeter University the best of luck for next year and I’m sure they’ll build on this and move up the leagues. For us I’m immensely proud, the club have been incredible, they’ve backed us and gave us every opportunity to get to where we are, and I’ll be looking forward to 2018/19 and seeing what we can do.”
Banbury Try Scorers: Angus Johnson, Matt Goode, Sam Stoop and Ian Isham.
15. Tommy Gray (Sponsored by: Edd Frost & Daughters)
14. Joe Mills (Sponsored by: DTC International)
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. Ed Phillips (Sponsored by: P Montanaro – ITSM Consultancy)
1. Ian Isham (Captain) (Sponsored by: Fieldcraft)
2. Giles Saar (Sponsored by: Jamie Briggs Removals & Storage)
3. Pete Boulton (Sponsored by: BRUFC SAGA Department)
4. Kallum Dixey
5. Nick Pratt
6. Jacob Mills (Sponsored by: Hire Safe Solutions)
7. Angus Johnson
8. Chris Phillips (Sponsored by: Lorne Alway)
16. Ken Key (Sponsored by: Lockwoods Ski and Outdoor
17. Matt Brock
18. Tom Burman
19. Freddie Cracknell (Sponsored by: F M & P Consultancy)