Stoop puts Bulls on way to first win in four attempts

Ed Phillips kicked two penalties for Banbury Bulls at Reading
Ed Phillips kicked two penalties for Banbury Bulls at Reading

Banbury Bulls finally rediscovered their winning ways as they ground out an 11-5 victory at Reading.

After three consecutive South West One defeats, Banbury Bulls were desperate to get back to winning ways.

And they did so with a hard-fought victory at Reading, even though it was not in the fashion they are used to.

Banbury’s desperation may have contributed to a stuttering performance at Sonning Lane. But there was no lack of passion and desire as they crept over the line to seal the four points. It wasn’t the fluid Bulls the Bodicote Park faithful know but it was the result that was needed. It has taken them back up to sixth in the table.

Bulls take on Reading Abbey this week at Bodicote Park where they will look to complete their second double over both Reading sides.

In the opening exchanges Bulls played some good rugby and pressed Reading who, despite their lowly position, frustrated Banbury at the break downs.

Between their long periods of pressure, Bulls let Reading gain field position too easily with a mixture of poor decisions while in position coupled with ill-discipline.

Bulls eventually crossed the line. Banbury’s pack kept possession for multiple phases and made ground, the ball was spread wide to full-back Sam Stoop who stepped inside one player and shrugged off another to finish well in the left corner.

But Bulls failed to build on the breakthrough and continued to let Reading out of pressure situations, which they did well, marching up the pitch. And it was the Berkshire outfit who scored next to level before halftime.

The second half was much like the first. Bulls enjoyed long periods of pressure but were unable to convert that into points.

Reading lacked any real creative spark and kicked poorly which let Bulls knock at the door time and time again.

Matt Goode had a try disallowed due to the referee obstructing a Reading defender. But from the resulting scrum Bulls won a penalty and Phillips added three more points.

On their next attack Phillips took Bulls six points clear with another penalty. But a spirited Reading team attacked until the final when Bulls turned the ball over deep in their own 22.