Bulls grind out another victory to avenge home defeat

Tommy Gray goes on the attack for Banbury Bulls at Salisbury. Photo: Simon Grieve
Tommy Gray goes on the attack for Banbury Bulls at Salisbury. Photo: Simon Grieve

Banbury Bulls made it 11 wins on the spin as they avenged their only home defeat of the Wadworth 6X South West One campaign.

Despite a rusty performance, Bulls continued their winning streak at Salisbury. Tries from Jack Briggs, Tommy Gray and Josh Deegan helped Bulls to a 19-5 victory.

It was a scrappy contest, which was to be expected after such a long time without a game for both sides. Jimmy Manley carried brilliantly but it was his efforts in defence that stood out, constantly killing any momentum Salisbury had with some brilliant turnovers at crucial moments.

It had been three weeks since the victory at Oxford Harlequins so there was definitely some rust to shake off early on for Matt Goode’s side.

But they started brightly, Dan Brady and Gray showing off their pace to make some excellent early breaks but it was Salisbury who opened the scoring. Nick Wotton exploited some poor defending to make a break down the left before off-loading to Rory MacTaggart who touched down in the corner.

Going behind kicked Bulls into gear and they had a strong period after the restart. Sam Stoop chipped in behind and good pressure from Brady forced his opposite number into a mistake, knocking on five metres from his own try line. From the ensuing scrum, Ed Phillips and Stoop combined for Briggs, who ran a brilliant line, to smash through the Salisbury defence. The inside centre left a trail of defenders behind him before touching down and Phillips converted.

Salisbury had a good period of pressure just before halftime, winning a scrum five metres out, but strong defence pushed them back to the 22 before forcing an error.

Salisbury started the second half brightly, making a couple of solid line breaks. Salisbury elected to chip over the top but good sweeping from Gray cut out any danger.

And it was Gray who showed his skills in attack as well as in defence to increase his side’s lead. Freddie Cracknell played in Gray down the right flank who showed great skill to slam on the brakes and step his way back infield, cutting a great line through the Salisbury defence before scoring under the posts.

Phillips converted to increase the lead to 14-5 before Pete Boulton limped off with a back injury, as did Brady before Briggs was also forced off with a head injury after a dangerous clear out from Salisbury. Bulls reorganised, second row or flanker Angus Johnson started the game playing number 8 and finished it playing inside centre.

Despite the makeshift back line, Bulls extended their lead after a brilliant run from Cracknell. The tricky winger carried brilliantly from out wide, spinning out of two high tackles before expertly off-loading to Josh Deegan who sprinted his way into the corner.

Salisbury looked for a way back into the game and nearly scored in the corner except for a vital try saving tackle from Gray who pushed his opposite number into touch. Banbury’s defence managed to hold firm for a hard-fought victory.