Bulls need to charge up their batteries for crucial games

Cashel Chilvers is held up by Oxford Harlequins during Banbury Bulls' defeat
Cashel Chilvers is held up by Oxford Harlequins during Banbury Bulls' defeat

Banbury Bulls need to start picking up points against teams around them, starting with Saturday’s clash against Reading.

A sixth defeat means Bulls are only two points off the South West One East relegation zone ahead this weekend’s fixture against a Reading side which sit one place above them on points difference.

But Bulls go into Saturday’s key clash at Bodicote Park on the back of a 19-13 defeat at lowly Oxford Harlequins who have now won two on the spin.

In a repeat of last season’s Oxon Knockout Cup semi-final, both sides looked to capitalise on other’s mistakes on a tight pitch that didn’t allow much room for expansive rugby. That have suited the home side who were deserved winners on the day.

Bulls started the game well with constant possession and territory and turned that into a 6-0 lead with two penalties from Ed Phillips in front of the posts. But Bulls faltered from the restart and the home side settled into a period in the opposition 22 with Quins crossing the white wash for a converted try.

The remainder of the first half was error stricken as both sides failed to take advantage of some prime opportunities.

The second half wasn’t much more of a spectacle with neither side able to get into their stride and Quins were more effective in close contact.

Bulls still crossed the line first with a well weighted grubber from Sam Stoop that saw Jack Briggs collect and score on the left. Phillips added the extras to put Bulls 13-7 ahead.

But simple errors saw the home side to regain the lead when they were gifted field position with two penalties. From the resulting line-out, the initial drive was well dealt with by Bulls but the ball was secured at the back and Quins front row drove over for a converted try.

Bulls huffed and puffed but were unable to link multiple phases together and it was Quins who scored gain.

Fom a Banbury scrum in their own 22, Chris Phillips and Ed Phillips combined on the blind side. But a clearance kick from Ed Phillips was charged down and the Quins back row had plenty of time to go over after the ball came back off the corner flag.

That still gave Bulls a chance, just six points adrift but they needed a converted try to win the game and didn’t really get close. The game ended with the visitors trying their hardest but that dynamic team performance from last season was missing.