13-Man Bulls Stage Incredible Comeback !
Banbury Bulls showed some serious heart and character to pull off an incredible late comeback against Chippenham on Saturday.
DCS Stadium at Bodicote Park – Saturday 6th January 2018
Match report by Alex Inch, photo by David Inch
The Bulls were trailing 12-22 and down to 13 men after 2 yellow cards with 10 minutes to go, but late tries from Ed Phillips and Sam Stoop saw Banbury snatch victory with the final play of the game to win 26-22.
Banbury’s first game of 2018 might have been their biggest of the season. Banbury & Chippenham came in to the game 3rd and 2nd in the table respectively. In the reverse fixture there was plenty of drama, Chippenham missing an extra time penalty to lose by a single point. Everything pointed towards a close thrilling contest and it certainly lived up to the billing.
Banbury got off to the perfect start with an early Josh Deegan try. A lovely bit of play from the backs eventually saw Tommy Gray slip a sneaky pass onto the onrushing Josh Deegan who broke through a couple tackles before touching down out wide to the left. Ed Phillips couldn’t convert but the Bulls had an early 5-0 lead.
Matthew Powell nearly scored a wonderful solo effort, bursting through the Chippenham line close to the half way line but was stopped 5 metres out. It didn’t keep Banbury back for long though as a couple phases later Sam Stoop threw a lovely pass to pull the opposition out of position. Chris Phillips collected the pass, threw a lovely dummy before diving over from close range. Ed Phillips converted to make it 12-0.
Chippenham got back into the game with a break from deep. Brad Doggett made a lovely break down the right side-line, he drew the last man before passing inside to Aaron Clarke who ran in untouched out to the right. Dan Wainwright converted to narrow the gap to 12-7.
Andy Rossiter saw yellow for Chippenham after a high tackle but despite being a man down it was Chippenham who scored again next. Sam Saunders took a quick penalty and eventually the ball was offloaded to Jacob Unwin who’s perfectly timed run saw him burst through the Banbury defensive line untouched before touching down out to the left. Dan Wainwright couldn’t convert but the scores were level at the half time whistle, 12-12.
Chippenham had their first lead of the game after a Dan Wainwright penalty to make it 12-15. Banbury penalised for not rolling away. From the restart, Chippenham scored again. Tom Foggerty took a quick penalty, sprinting through the Banbury defence who hadn’t retreated 10 metres. Tom Foggerty eventually offloaded to Jacob Unwin who sprinted from out wide to touchdown under the posts for his second try of the game. Dan Wainwright converted to increase the lead to 12-22.
With 10 minutes to go Banbury were desperately searching for a way back into the game. Things were made a lot harder though when Matthew Powell got a yellow card for a high tackle and 30 seconds later Matt Brock also saw yellow after not retreating 10 metres after another penalty.
Rather than give up the Bulls showed incredible character to dig deep and give it everything they had for the last 10 minutes. The atmosphere inside the DCS Stadium was fantastic with the Bulls supporters getting fully behind the team in the hopes of a miraculous comeback. Down by 2 scores, Banbury kicked for the posts after a penalty, but Ed Phillips pushed his kick just wide. Another opportunity to think it was all over but still the Bulls kept going.
From a lineout Ian Isham threw short to Angus Johnson who got the ball immediately back to Ian Isham. The Banbury skipper made a brilliant break down the side-line and was stopped metres out. The ball was regathered though and Ed Phillips threw a wonderful dummy before sniping his way over from close range in the corner. Ed Phillips converted to make it 19-22 and suddenly there was real belief that Banbury could pull off something special.
Banbury had the momentum and a yellow card for Brad Doggett gave Banbury even more reason to be positive. Banbury were into the 22 when Jack Briggs smashed his way through the Chippenham line before expertly off-loading to Tommy Gray, Tommy Gray got the ball wide to Joe Mills who sprinted his way towards the corner, eventually being stopped 5 metres out.
Ed Phillips picked and went from the back of the ruck but was also stopped narrowly short of the try line. The Banbury supporters were screaming for a try and Sam Stoop delivered darting his way over from close range to score next to the posts (pictured above) to the delight of the Banbury players and supporters. Ed Phillips converted with what proved to be the final play of the game.
A miraculous comeback in a breath-taking finish. Heart break for Chippenham and jubilation for Banbury. A game which nobody deserved to lose. An incredibly physical game but the standard of rugby was some of the best played all season. Sam Stoop was awarded Banbury’s Man of the Match, a composed head in a chaotic game. Big time players step up in big games and Sam Stoop demonstrated that perfectly.
Speaking to Matt Goode after the game: “I had it in my head what I was going to say after the game when we lost but Sam Stoop scored a brilliant try in the last minute to give us the win. The last 3 games against Chippenham there’s been drama in the last minute. When the boys were 2 men down we looked like we we’re going to struggle. 10 points down, 2 men off, the boys dug deep. We only had 6 men in the scrum and one of the backs, but we dug deep and won that and then managed to get it down into their half. It showed massive character, our team ethos and belief real shone today. We didn’t always look like winning but we’ve done a job.
On the bright start/game plan: “Our game plan was to play a high intensity game and evaluate after 30 minutes if we were going to change that or keep going. I think we took our foot off the gas a bit and let them back in. Going against the wind I was happy with 12-12 at halftime. Some of the mistakes in the second half when he had the wind, we need to look at in training. Full credit to the boys though they really dug deep and some great performances from them. I told a few of them off in the huddle after the game for missing some easy tackles but when you win like that its all forgiven. They were 2nd, I think we’re now into 2nd which is wonderful news.”
On the next game against Grove: “We’re going to look at how we beat them in the reverse fixture. It’s not a foregone conclusion. Away at Grove is a tough ask, we’ll make some changes and pick the best team that I think will beat them.”
Banbury try scorers: Josh Deegan, Chris Phillips, Ed Phillips and Sam Stoop.
15. Tommy Gray (Sponsored by: Edd Frost & Daughters)
14. Joe Mills (Sponsored by: DTC International)
13. Jimmy Manley (Sponsored by: Godiva Insurance)
12. Jack Briggs
11. Josh Deegan (Sponsored by: Allsafe Scaffolding)
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. Angus Johnson
6. Jacob Mills (Sponsored by: Hire Safe Solutions)
7. Matthew Powell
8. Chris Phillips (Sponsored by: Lorne Alway)
16. Ken Key (Sponsored by: Lockwoods Ski and Outdoor)
17. Matt Brock
18. George Grieve