Bulls see bid for league and cup double come to an end

Banbury Bulls Matt Goode gets the ball away against Kidderminster Old Carolians at Bodicote Park
Banbury Bulls Matt Goode gets the ball away against Kidderminster Old Carolians at Bodicote Park

Banbury Bulls’ hopes of a league and cup double were ended by Kidderminster Old Carolians but they are still on course for success at county level.

The RFU Midlands Intermediate Cup quarter-final saw Kidderminster Carolians cone out on top 11-5 at a wind-swept Bodicote Park. But 24 hours later James Kerr’s side were handed a walkover in the Oxon Knockout Cup by Wallingford.

Saturday’s game as a spectacle was spoiled by the driving wind and rain but the Midlands Two West North outfit mastered the conditions the better than Bulls.

The Midlands Two West South leaders elected to play against the elements in the first half but Kidderminster had the lion’s share possession and territory and soon turned that into points. They recycled the ball well using strong forward runners, moved the ball well in the conditions to score in the left corner.

Banbury had a hard task ahead of them and, for once, they didn’t seem up to it. The forwards found it hard to retain the ball for long periods and when they did, stand-in fly half Ed Phillips lacked fluency and imagination, and too often kicked the ball away.

The visitors dominated field position. It wasn’t a day for running in multiple tries but Kidderminster kept chipping away and took two penalties in front of the posts to lead 11-0 at halftime.

Bulls would have been optimistic at the turn around, knowing they hadn’t really got out of second gear and now had the elements at their backs. But that did little to change the flow of the game.

Bulls did naturally have better field position but they looked like a rudderless ship at times, leaving the forwards a near impossible task. Just as it looked as if the game was going to fade out of their grasp Bulls managed to put some phases together and Sean Banister crossed in the corner but Phillips narrowly missed the conversion from the touchline.

The try gave Bulls a boost and they soon earned a penalty but Phillips put the ball to the right of the posts in the blustery conditions. Bulls continued to battle on but often coughed the ball up in the Kidderminster 22.

The visitors showed Banbury exactly what they should have done in the first half and retained the ball for multiple phases and worked their way firstly out of their own 22 then out of their half.

That frustrated Bulls as they could not get their hands on the ball, meaning they were trying to force the issue when they did. Bulls knew a try could give them the win but they couldn’t create the final spark.