It was not the way Banbury Bulls reckoned on warming-up for Thursday’s Oxon Knockout Cup final.
Banbury’s hard work and excellent first half to the South West One East campaign is petering away in front of their very eyes.
Their performances have really fallen off the pace recently and Saturday’s 36-7 defeat at lowly Windsor was no different. A pumped up Windsor side, fighting for their lives, showed Bulls up in all areas, thus it turned into a long afternoon under the Castle on the Datchet Road ground.
Bulls started solidly before conceding an interception try in the opening exchanges somewhat against the run of play. Albeit from 7-0 down, Bulls continued to keep hold of the ball for long periods in the first half.
But they struggled to make inroads through the well organised Windsor defence and certainly could not find any room on the outside on the small pitch.
Bulls conceded again before halftime to go into the break 14-0 down but that should not have been the end of the match as a contest.
After the restart, Windsor soon had two more tries and their four-try bonus point in the bag and added one of the conversations which increased their lead to 26 points. That finally rallied Bulls into action for a short spell.
They scored their only points of the match when Jacob Mills crashed over from short range and Ed Phillips added the conversation to close the gap to 26-7.
But James Kerr’s boys were unable to build on that and Windsor came back strongly. They added another converted try and a penalty to secure the win and finish on all too familiar poor performance from Bulls.
There needs to be a wholesale change of attitude and application for Thursday night’s clash with Oxford University Greyhounds but it is a lot easier said than done. If nothing else the occasion and the fact they are defending their Oxon Knockout Cup crown should give them the impetus they need to finish the season with some credibility.