Gandy gives holders the impetus as they begin defence with big win

Jimmy Manley got on the score sheet for Banbury Bulls against Oxford Brookes
Jimmy Manley got on the score sheet for Banbury Bulls against Oxford Brookes

George Grieve completed a hat-trick as Banbury Bulls marched into the next round of the Oxon Knockout Cup.

The holders produced a great performance to win Friday’s preliminary round tie 57-13 against Oxford Brookes at The DCS Stadium.

A hat-trick from Grieve and a brace of tries from the impressive Alex Gandy saw Bulls safely through.

Brookes started brightly with Giorgio Arricale kicking an early penalty but Ed Phillips levelled.

Bulls scored their first try after breaking from deep. Josh Deegan wriggled his way out of a couple tackles before slipping the ball to Grieve who out-sprinted the defence to touch down and Phillips kicked the extras.

Bulls extended the lead from a scrum in the opposition 22, the backs swapped several quick passes before Gandy burst through and touched down with Phillips converting.

Tight head Hugo Brown took a quick penalty, spinning and barging his way over from close range before Gandy scored a brilliant solo effort. The pacey winger picked up a loose pass and showed great footwork to kick the ball along the ground before touching down and Phillips converted to make it 24-8.

Great work from the pack saw them win a scrum against the head, Sam Stoop got the ball wide quickly and Grieve burst through a small gap in the defensive line. The centre threw a dummy before out-sprinting the cover defence to touch down and Phillips added the conversion.

Freddie Cracknell got a yellow card just before halftime but, despite being a man light, Bulls increased their lead after the restart.

Good work from the forwards got Bulls to within touching distance of the try line before Stoop darted his way over and Phillips converted.

Brookes scored again when Luke Hughes made the initial break before popping the ball out to Tobias Hudson-Davies who went over in the corner.

Ian Isham was stopped just short, the ball was recycled quickly and John Fox found Grieve who went over in the corner and Bulls quickly scored again when Brookes kicked deep into the 22. Instead of calling for a mark, Tommy Gray broke three tackles before cutting inside and beating the covering defender to score under the posts.

Another simple conversion for Phillips when then took a quick penalty before popping the ball to Jimmy Manley who crashed over. Phillips converted before Isham and his opposing captain picked up yellow cards.