Head coach James Kerr wanted his Banbury Bulls side to make club history and they duly obliged in Thursday’s Oxon Knockout Cup final.
Bulls retained the cup for the first time in the club’s history as they beat Oxford University Greyhounds 17-12 in a thrilling final at Iffley Road. Josh Deegan and Jack Briggs got the tries as Bulls held on to repel a sterling response from Greyhounds.
Following a patchy run of form in South West One East, Bulls were keen to get back to their best in the final. They dominated the opening exchanges and Chris Phillips was denied early on by some stout defence.
But the opening try came when scrum half Ed Phillips released winger Deegan who stepped inside and went over. Ed Phillips landed the conversion and Bulls went close shortly afterwards when Matt Goode put Deegan away but he was stopped just short of the line.
Greyhounds gradually got into the contest but fly half Tom Dyer missed a penalty to reduce the arrears. Moments later Greyhounds put their first points on the board when a catch and drive ended with hooker Noah Miller going over.
Dyer was wide with his conversion attempt and Ed Phillips was off target with a penalty at the other end. Greyhounds finished the first half in the driving seat but could not find their way past a determined defence.
Shortly after the restart scrum half Tom Kershaw skipped through a couple of tackles but was held up short of the line. With Goode in dominant form, Bulls went close when centre Jimmy Manley found Deegan but he was tackled into touch.
Bulls increased their advantage on the hour mark when fly half Sam Stoop created the opening for Briggs to go over and Ed Phillips added the ensuing conversion.
Dyer was off target with another penalty but Greyhounds got back into it when flanker James Beaufils raced away to score and this time Dyer was successful, reducing the deficit to just two points.
But Bulls stood firm and a late penalty from Ed Phillips calmed the nerves. As the game opened up Bulls had further chances to increase their lead through Freddie Cracknell and Manley. Those chances went begging but Bulls saw out some lengthy stoppage-time to get their hands back on the cup.