Man of the match Tom MacDonald

Pictures - Top by five points Banbury Bulls head to Newbury after great win over Grove

Report by Alex Inch - Pictures by Simon Grieve

Banbury have increased their lead at the top of the table with impressive victory, writes Alex Inch.

The Bulls produced a brilliant first half to beat local rivals Grove 67-3, with a hat-trick of tries from Joe Mills as well as a man of the match performance from Tom MacDonald.

Banbury are now five points clear of Oxford Harlequins in South West 1 East ahead of this weekend's trip to Newbury Blues, who are fourth in South West 1 (East).

“Newbury away next week, what a great place to play,” said head coach Matt Goode.

“We’re going to move the ball about. We’re going to play our style of rugby. They gave us a really tough game here and maybe should have won that day. They’ll have a score to settle, that’s for sure.

“They’ve had a couple slip ups in recent weeks but we’re expecting a really tough game.”

Tommy Gray got Banbury off to the perfect start against Grove when he found his way over from close range in the opening minutes.

Banbury’s second try was a brilliant effort from deep in their own half.

The Banbury backs worked the ball down the left wing and with one man to beat, Joe Mills played in Tom MacDonald for a fantastic team try.

Two tries from close range in the clubhouse corner from Chris Davies and Ed Phillips put the Bulls in full control and secured them a four-try bonus point with barely a quarter of the game gone.

Three tries in quick succession from Joe Mills, Jack Anderson and James Miller all came from Banbury’s half of the pitch as the backs took full advantage of their extra pace on the large Bodicote Park pitch.

Grove kicked a penalty to bring up the half time whistle, but Banbury wouldn’t concede any more points for the rest of the game.

Joe Mills completed his hat-trick with two second half tries either side of another Tommy Gray score. Both players running good support lines to be on hand to finish off any chances that the Bulls created.

Banbury have had an exciting group of young players representing the club this season and the final try of the afternoon exemplified this when Quinten Blythe played in Owen Michael for a try on his Bulls debut. Both players still only 18 it will be fascinating to see how they progress. One thing this group certainly doesn’t lack is confidence.

“First half we were fantastic,” said Goode. “ I told the boys to take the shackles off. Don’t worry too much about phases and play heads up rugby and the boys delivered.

“They were clinical with their chances. Usually, I’d say I’m happier only conceding three points but today I was really proud of our attack. Some of the tries were phenomenal.

“What pleased me most was that when we made those breaks, there was always three or four boys there who could finish off those tries. It’s always good to see the boys enjoying their rugby.”

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