Banbury Bulls final Midlands Two West South fixture proved to be a microcosm of the season as a whole, beginning with a bang and ending in a whimper, and – like the curate’s egg – plenty of good and bad in parts in between.
Bulls signed off with a 24-24 draw with Spartans at Bodicote Park where they were denied a victory by two late tries in a ragged second half.
Bulls got off to an excellent start the kick-off, good ground was made before Jed Boyle was released to race 40 metres to score and Ed Phillips added the conversion. But the Spartans’ forwards gained the upper hand, especially in the set-pieces.
The visitors replied when they seized a loose ball in midfield and winger Andy Hyslop was given a clear run to the corner. Bulls scored their second try when Josh Deegan snatched a speculative kick ahead to go over but Phillips’ conversion attempt from under the posts was charged down.
Spartans, demonstrating their forward superiority replied with a push over try but good handling gave Carl Daniels the space he exploited well to score and Phillips’ conversion gave Bulls a 19-10 lead at the break.
After the restart it looked as though Bulls had wrapped the game up when slick passing allowed Deegan to score his second try. But from that point the game went downhill with both sides incurring the wrath of the referee and making numerous errors all flow to the game was lost.
Spartans began to dominate territory and possession and although Bulls’ defence remained firm opportunities to clear their were thwarted due to poor passing and ball retention.
With the game entering its final phases a Spartans kick ahead eluded Bulls’ defence yielding a converted try. Worse was to follow as a series of missed tackles resulted in another converted try under the posts.