Banbury Bulls got back to winning ways in South West One East with a battling display at Old Centralians.
James Kerr’s boys emerged 33-20 victors at third-placed Old Centralians where they picked up the four-try bonus point despite being down to 14 players in the latter stages.
Saturday’s match at Painswick Road started at an electric pace with both sides enjoying early possession but Bulls crossed the line first.
Skipper Ian Isham received the ball from a breakdown and with great strength broke the line and charged from his own half into the opposition 22. The ball was recycled and Cash Chilvers powered over to score his second try in as many weeks.
Ed Phillips slotted over the conversion but Old Centralians quickly crossed twice to turn the game around. Former Banbury Colt Alex Cox was off target with one of the conversions, making the score 12-7 to the home side.
In previous games Bulls have been guilty of not addressing their faults but this time they were quick to put things right.
They kept hold of the ball for an extra phase or two when required, rather than trying to force an off-load or a risky pass. That paid dividends as they played rugby in the Old Centralians half.
With the penalty advantage at a maul, Phillips looked to break around the fringe. After side-stepping one player he looped a pass over the next to the on-rushing Sam Stoop who ran a great support line before outpacing the opposition to the line. Phillips pushed a simple conversion wide and Cox stepped up to slot over a penalty from 40 metres out to give his side a 15-12 advantage at the break.
Bulls regained the lead after the restart when Phillips disrupted the ball at the back of the scrum before hacking through and winning the race to score. He converted his own try to make it 19-15.
Bulls increased their lead from a blind-side move from a scrum deep in the 22. Joe Mills sucked the defence in and Phillips found Josh Deegan out wide who finished well.
Jack Briggs was next to get in on the act with another first phase score. Again from a scrum, Bulls got clean ball and Briggs ran a hard line, collected a pass from Stoop and broke through to score with Phillips adding the extras.
Old Centralians crossed for their third try and for the last 15 minutes the hosts battered at the Bulls’ defensive line. Veteran Matt Brock was yellow-carded for an infringement at the breakdown but that galvanised the visitors and when Phillips hacked the ball out of the scrum it confirmed the bonus point win.