Banbury Bulls made it back-to-back wins as they came from behind to beat Reading Abbey.
James Kerr’s side emerged 26-17 victors in Saturday’s South West One East fixture at Bodicote Park.
Despite a tough first half, in which Bulls stuttered, they just managed to keep themselves in the game rather than dominating it. Bulls came into their own in the final 20 minutes and secured the four-try bonus point.
Bulls conceded first in an error riddled five minutes, Ed Phillips squandered a straightforward penalty and missed touch with a poor clearance kick returning the 22 drop out. Matt Goode failed to field the ball kicked deep from the full-back and in a matter of seconds Bulls were deep in their 22 and failed to keep the visitors out.
Both teams looked dangerous with the ball as Bulls built pressure but they still lacked consistency before Abbey were penalised for early engagement at the scrum five metres out. Ed Phillips took a quick tap-penalty and was stopped just short, Chris Phillips nudged even closer before Cash Chilvers powered over the line.
Phillips added the conversion but with the last play of the half Abbey crossed for a converted score.
Although Bulls did not start the second half well they drew level with Chilvers’ second try. Chilvers again showed great strength from close range to score in the corner but Ed Phillips’ conversion drifted just wide.
As they did at the end of the first half, Abbey responded straight away. Bulls switched off and a spirited Abbey side scored to lead 17-12.
In the final 20 minute Bulls showed more continuity than they had done in previous weeks. They moved the ball wide across the pitch with forwards and backs working together.
It was from that first period of fluid play that Bulls scored their third try. Bulls switched play, stretching the visitors’ tiring pack, Sam Stoop’s inch perfect kick saw Dan Brady collect and run in untouched to score.
Phillips converted to give Bulls a narrow lead at 19-17.
Bulls began to look more threatening on a consistent basis as Abbey’s big strong runners tired despite clever use of replacements. Bulls found space on the left, Goode took a half gap and off-loaded out of the tackle to Brady who again showed his pace to finish his second try.
Phillips added the conversion before Abbey gave the home side one last push. But Banbury closed the game out by holding on to the ball well in the closing minutes.