Despite losing 10-3 at Pinley, Banbury Bulls retain third place in Midlands Two West South but head coach James Kerr will be looking for an improved display against Spartans.
Bulls have week off to prepare for their final game at Bodicote Park following a lack lustre performance at Pinley.
In testing conditions, Pinley started brightly playing with the elements and put Bulls under early pressure but the visitors managed to repel and turn into some field position of their own.
But Bulls could not get into their stride with a few half-opportunities failing to materialise into anything more and several handling errors adding to their frustration.
Pinley took a foot-hold in the game, utilising their stronger forward pack, particularly at the set-piece.
That was the platform that saw them score the game’ only try, making use of the blind side and putting the ball through their hands well before Karl Leddington finished it off in the corner. Andy Turner added the extras from the touch line with a superb kick.
That was a wake-up call for Bulls and their defence did not let them down again in the game despite regular visits to the 22 from Pinley. Bulls trailed 7-0 at halftime but at the time were confident that with the wind at their backs they could turn it around.
The advice at halftime was simple, Banbury needed to keep the ball for longer periods and start executing their game plan to build pressure.
But little changed and, if anything, Bulls saw less of the ball in the second half. Ed Phillips and Turner exchanged penalties and Pinley saw the game out, clinically keeping the ball for long periods of time.
To Banbury’s credit their defence held strong but that was not enough to change the result although they escaped with a losing bonus point to stay in third place going into the final home game against Spartans when they will be keen to get back to playing their exciting expansive brand of rugby.