Banbury Bulls suffered their second successive South West One East defeat against Old Centralians on Saturday.
James Kerr’s boys showed some signs of a hangover from the defeat to Newbury Blues as they went down 40-31 at Bodicote Park.
The first half saw the home side make multiple uncharacteristic mistakes in both attack and defence. But Bulls were first on the score board when scrum-half Ed Phillips slotted over a long range penalty.
But it was penalties that Bulls were limited to while Old Centralians scored four tries and secured their bonus point in the first half. Their opening tries came through a combination of good attacking play and some weak defence.
Bulls stayed within touching distance at 14-12 through four penalties from Phillips, who missed with his fifth attempt.
The game was a thriller with both teams playing good attacking rugby and making ground easily. But Bulls were guilty of chasing the game a bit more than was necessary which led to three crucial mistakes.
The first saw Phillips fail to gather a quick tap penalty but from the resulting play Bulls looked odds-on to score only for the final pass to be intercepted and the visitors winger ran 85 metres to score under the posts.
In the last play of the first half Bulls looked for a pass that was not on and this time the opposition winger ran 70 metres to score and make it 24-12 at the interval
Bulls needed to return to building phases in attack and be more patient after the restart. Their task was aided by the visitors’ inside centre going in the sin-bin and Bulls used that to gain a foothold in the game.
They scored through centre Jack Briggs after good ball retention and a well worked move from the back line but Phillips was off target with his conversion.
Bulls continued to press and reduced the arrears when Ed Phillips collected a quick tap-penalty and went over before adding the conversion.
Cashel Chillvers powered over to score a late try but the missed conversion from Phillips meant Bulls still trailed by four points. And it was the visitors who scored again to seal victory.
Banbury tried hard to get a final try which would have seen them claim two bonus points but in was not to be.