Bulls extend their advantage at the top

Banbury Bulls skipper Ed Phillips was amongst the points at Barkers Butts
Banbury Bulls skipper Ed Phillips was amongst the points at Barkers Butts

Banbury Bulls can take another step towards the Midlands Two West title when they entertain basement boys Bedworth on Saturday.

James Kerr’s side extended their lead at their top following a 43-12 victory at Barkers Butts while second placed Earlsdon beat third placed Spartans but without gaining a four-try bonus point.

Bulls had secured their bonus point by halftime at Barkers Butts but not without an early wake-up call.

Bulls went in front through tight head prop Ken Key’s first try for the club. The strong scrummager, signed from Chipping Norton in the summer, picked up from a ruck a metre out and dived over.

Barkers hit back immediately. Banbury failed to gather the ball from the kick-off and the hosts scored from first-phase ball with a simple crash over. A simple conversion soon had Bulls trailing.

With play going from end-to-end Banbury scored the game’s third try in an action packed opening ten minutes.

Securing first phase ball from a scrum, Bulls worked a training ground move that saw Jimmy Manley draw the full-back, putting Joe Mills in for an easy score. Phillips finally found the target to put Bulls 12-7 ahead.

Bulls continued to dominate in all areas in the first half, adding to their tally through a rolling maul finished off by Simon Brand. Barkers conceded a penalty in centre field and Bulls turned down an easy three points, the ensuing line-out saw the maul gather pace and Brand dotted down in the corner.

The bonus point came through Carl Daniels wide on the left with a trade-mark flowing move, after some great individual play from the impressive Joe Mills who beat two players before putting Daniels in to cross the line unopposed. Phillips was on target from under the posts to put Bulls 24-7 ahead.

Butts spent most of the remainder in the Banbury half and Daniels was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle but it was the cumulative offences which brought the card from the pocket.

Butts’ unforced errors let Bulls off the hook before the hosts’ second row threw a punch, frustrated at Banbury’s continued ill-discipline as the visitors turned around 24-7 ahead.

After the restart, replacement Manu Paniagua got a yellow card and while both teams were down to 14, another replacement Jed Boyle held the ball up and picked out Phillips who slid over in the corner. Jimmy Manley crossed for his first league try of the season before Butts went over to make it 36-14.

The best try saw Boyle break past two players, the ball was passed through Phillips, Goode and Manley’s hands before Sam Stoop spotted the gap and flicked an inside pass to Brand, he fed Isham who set up his skipper to go over and then add the extras.