Top-of-table derby day for Banbury v Oxford Harlequins could be title decider

By Alex Inch

By Zoe Ashton
Thursday, 10th March 2022, 1:27 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th March 2022, 1:28 pm
Banbury’s man of the match Ed Phillips scored a try and kicked a penalty and seven conversions in Saturday’s 67-20 win    Picture by Simon Grieve
Banbury’s man of the match Ed Phillips scored a try and kicked a penalty and seven conversions in Saturday’s 67-20 win Picture by Simon Grieve

Banbury stayed top of the league with a 67-20 win over Marlborough on Saturday in an entertaining contest.

A man of the match performance from Ed Phillips helped secure all five points, writes Alex Inch.

Next they face second-placed Oxford Harlequins in potentially the title decider.

The Bulls were without the services of Quinten Blythe and Dan Tooth who were playing on opposite sides in a Coventry vs Army friendly fixture. Pete Boulton returned to the starting line-up and Joe Mills had recovered from a hamstring injury.

Sadly, in the week off Tom MacDonald suffered a broken fibula playing for Oxford Brookes and will now miss out on the rest of the season.

In a great afternoon for the Bulls, they did well to break down a defence mostly looking to put big shots in and exploited the poor discipline from the away side to control possession and territory.

The ten tries were by nine different try scorers.

Ian Isham crossed twice, with James Hibbert, Joe Mills, Callum Horne, Tommy Gray, Ed Phillips, Dan Brady, Jack Briggs, Angus Johnson.

Phillips converted seven and added a penalty.

“It was a great performance,” said head coach Matt Goode.

“We took onboard the things we’ve been working on at training. We set ourselves some goals and executed our plan really well. 1-18 all played their part. There wasn’t a standout individual try, it was a very good team performance. The tries were good, great support lines and work rate.”

This weekend the Bulls travel to Oxford Harlequins, who are just a point behind in the title race.

“Definitely some selection headaches,” added Goode.

“We’ve had some big injuries recently and the red card today (for a James Leonardi high tackle) hasn’t helped but our squad is incredibly good.

“It doesn’t really matter about 1st vs 2nd, its another game.

“It’s great to have local derbies and work the hype up a bit but for me it’s another game of rugby. We’re going to play our game. We’re not going to change much for training. We know Quins are a good side. They’re coached very well.

“We need to make sure we perform to the best of our abilities and at the end of the day the best team will win.”

Goode concluded: “The league table at the end of the season will show who the best team is.

“Yes, we’d love to win the league, that is our goal. But really, we just want to keep improving, keep up our intensity, keep our boys getting better. That’s what we’re about.”