First defeat of the season for Banbury Bulls despite dominant first half
Promotion favourites Bracknell take advantage of two yellow cards
Banbury suffered their first defeat of the season in a narrow 33-28 defeat to early league leaders Bracknell.
Both teams came into the game with two wins from two. Bracknell, considered one of the favourites for the promotion, would provide a good test for a young Banbury squad with their own ambitions for promotion this season, writes Alex Inch.
Banbury were missing a number of first team players, but still put together a formidable squad.
Banbury deservedly took the lead when James Leonardi drove his way over after some brilliant work from the forward pack, James Miller converting.
Bracknell scored from an interception, but Banbury re-took the lead after good work from Quinten Blythe played in Charlie Norton for his second try of the season. Miller added a penalty kick to put Banbury in control, 7-15.
Bracknell added a second try before Miller’s penalty made Banbury’s lead a slender 14-18 at half time, for all their dominance.
Bracknell were a different side in the second half and soon went ahead. The Bulls fought back well and Quinten Blythe made it three tries in three games when he brilliantly gathered and scored a chip over the top from Miller. The 18-year-old is proving to be a real handful for opposition defenders.
Banbury’s afternoon came undone with two quick yellow cards. Bracknell took full advantage of the extra men for two quick tries. Miller’s third penalty of reduced the lead to five points, but couldn’t find the score for the victory their performance deserved.
Head coach Matt Goode said: “The two yellow cards definitely didn’t help. I thought the boys played really well. It was a real step up from the first two wins.
“We know what we’ve got to do to be up there. With the young squad we’ve got, we’re learning. In the first half we were unreal. Overall I’m fairly happy. It’s hard to lose but we lost against a good, well-drilled side.
“Small margins made big differences. We’ll analyse what went wrong and we’ll be better for it.”
Banbury take on local rivals Buckingham at home this Saturday, which Goode will be another tough test.
“We know what they bring. They bring heart, bring desire and they’ve got some good players. If we bring the intensity like we did at Bracknell, then I think we’ll be fine. We need the supporters to make it noisy for us, it should be a good game.”