Banbury’s title hopes hit by second defeat of season
The title hopes of Banbury were hit by only their second defeat of the season away to a fired-up Chippenham.
The Bulls made too many individual errors, some at crucial times in the game, as they deservedly lost 39-12 against a home side in fantastic form.
Fifth-placed Chippenham inflicted sweet revenge for their 55-15 loss at Banbury earlier in the season and look like a side well worth watching for the remainder of the campaign.
The defeat left the Bulls in third place in the Wadworth South West 1 (East) division of the National League, now seven points behind leaders Old Centralians, who won, and one behind Royal Wootton Bassett, who also tasted defeat, 21-20 at home to Windsor.
Things started to go wrong for Banbury at Chippenham from the opening minute when Jack Briggs was forced off with a dead leg after an accidental collision. This came on top of a rough week in which Kallum Dixey, Sam Carr-Archer and Will Thurlow were all ruled out with injury.
Chippenham took the lead with a Tom Douglas penalty after Banbury were adjudged to have committed a high tackle, and they soon added the first try of the game when Matt Dickens drove over. A conversion made the score 10-0.
The hosts’ rapid start to the match was complete when substitute Ben Riley bundled over from close range. With his physique, there was no stopping the big man from a metre out, and a conversion increased the lead to 17-0.
Banbury’s Jacob Mills was injured in the build-up to the try which led to the introduction of club captain Ian Isham for his first game in more than three months. Isham wasted no time in making his mark and, within minutes, he had reduced the deficit when he drove over at the back of a rolling maul.
Harry Murphy was extremely lucky to escape with only a yellow card for Chippenham after a shoulder direct to the head of Chris Davies. But Banbury took advantage of the extra man with a try just before the half-time whistle as Justin Parker ran a lovely line to burst through the defence and stretch out for a try that was converted by Ed Phillips to make it 17-12 at the break.
Chippenham started the second half in similar fashion to the first as Tyler Lewis scored from close range, and then Adrea Vasuitoga added another try in the corner to extend their lead to 27-12.
Riley scored his second converted try with another close-range finish to complete a blistering opening 15 minutes to the second half for the home team, leaving Banbury with a mountain to climb.
The visitors’ cause wasn’t helped when Parker saw yellow after an off-the-ball incident, and Chippenham completed their memorable day in extra-time when Jamie Adkin went over for another try.