Bulls finally end poor derby run to maintain advantage

Banbury Bulls' George Grieve tries to break through the Leamington defence
Banbury Bulls' George Grieve tries to break through the Leamington defence

Banbury Bulls took another big step towards the Midlands Two West South title with a 31-0 victory at Leamington in Saturday’s derby.

Bulls bagged a scruffy bonus-point win at Leamington, where three tries in the first half and two more in the second period sealed the bonus-point win.

Leamington rallied to the end testing the visitors resolute defence deep into the second half but Bulls held strong to maintain their nine-point lead at the top.

The derby hasn’t proved the happiest of fixtures for Bulls, having lost the last six matches at the Kenilworth Road ground. The game struggled as a spectacle as both teams tried their utmost to get a foothold and maintain possession long enough to establish a game plan.

It was Bulls who got closest to that in the first half. Gaining field position through one of numerous penalties given away at the break down, they kicked to the corner where Sean Banister continued his rich scoring vein with another good finish from the base of the maul and Ed Phillips added the extra two points.

From the restart Bulls fielded the ball and Phillips box-kicked to clear, Leamington’s covering scrum half and full back collided under the high ball which bounced up into the chasing Adam Walsh’s hands and he ran in unopposed from 40 metres out. Phillips again added the conversion.

Leamington regrouped the best they could but conceding two tries in as many minutes knocked their confidence while Bulls got ever closer to their fluent best but were slightly off the boil. That didn’t stop them scoring again before the half was out.

A kick to the corner and the line-out was not dealt with by the home side. Phillips sniped from the base with a show-and-go and trotted over as Bulls went into the break 19-0 up.

The second half followed the pattern of the first, both teams were able to stop the other getting to their stride, and flowing rugby was scarce. It took Bulls 15 minutes to secure the bonus point when long missed pass from John Fox found Walsh out wide for his second try and Phillips landed the conversion.

The final try started deep in Bulls’ own 22, a blind-side move from the base put Josh Deegan away on the right, he chipped over the full back. The covering winger beat him to the ball but Deegan recaliamed it and finished off the move by diving over the line.

The remainder of the game belonged to Leamington, who put several phases together but were denied right on the line several times.