Banbury Bulls have hit form at just the right time as they look to end the year on a high note.
Saturday’s 21-10 victory at Swindon made it four wins on the spin as Bulls climbed to eighth in South West One East.
Bulls put in a dogged display at Greenbridge Road in a game that didn’t flow the way either side would have wanted, marred by too many handling errors.
The visitors were the first to strike when veteran lock Matt Brock broke around the ruck and lolloped deep into the hosts 22. He was hauled down within sight of the try line but the ball was recycled quickly with Ed Phillips releasing the backs.
As Jack Briggs burst toward the line, he was in turn stopped. That allowed the forwards to link together in a well driller manner linking three off-loads in quick succession and gifting Michael Fox a chance to cross the line at a canter and dot down.
Phillips added the simple conversion and added a penalty before missing from a second one.
Swindon made inroads in Banbury’s territory, helped by some basic errors and soft penalty infringements. An attack down the left was halted by Banbury’s defence but Swindon quickly changed the point of attack with a cross field kick.
Originally looking as if the kick was too long, the Swindon winger rose to tap the ball cleverly back into play where it was gathered and grounded.
After the restart, Bulls started to ease away slightly with Phillips adding two more penalties to make it 16-5.
Bulls extended their lead through Briggs after a turnover in midfield by the returning Jimmy Manley created the platform. A quick break to the left saw Briggs still with some work to do.
Shrugging off the first defender, Briggs set up a foot race that he would ultimately win. Standing the fullback up, Briggs took him on the outside and scored in the corner.
Bulls needed to keep the ball to close the game out and, for the most part, they did what was needed, retaining the ball and kicking well into the hosts 22. But one wayward kick, drifting infield to the fullback, allowed Swindon the chance to pounce.
Swindon notched the last score of the game when they put their winger into space by going wide quickly. He was able to use his superior speed to outpace the cover defence and cross the whitewash.
This Saturday, Bulls host Windsor at Bodicote Park where they will attempt to extend their winning streak to five on the trot.