Banbury Bulls will be looking to round off 2016 with another victory against Chippenham on Saturday.
But Banbury’s four-match winning South West One East sequence came to an end in Saturday’s 14-14 draw with lowly Windsor at Bodicote Park.
Bulls established a 14-point lead at halftime but a poor performance in the second half saw the visitors score 14 points without reply.
Conditions weren’t suited for running rugby but the visitors seemed to want it more than their hosts. That that was as troubling as the performance with Windsor cancelling out Bulls’ two first half tries in the second period.
The first half saw early pressure earn Bulls a straightforward penalty which was missed by Ed Phillips.
Bulls kept the pressure on and a kick from fly-half Sam Stoop into the 22 was hacked away by the fullback. But it was gathered by Jack Briggs who ran in untouched to score and Phillips added the conversion.
Banbury’s second try came when the evasive Jimmy Manley managed to shrug off his opposite number to score after the backs had moved the ball out wide. His ability to create the opening when it seemed it had gone allowed Phillips another easy conversion to make it 14-0 at halftime.
But Banbury’s second half performance lacked any positives and left their faithful supporters disappointed at Bodicote Park.
Windsor were soon warded a line-out on Banbury’s ten metre line. Initial yards were made crashing the ball up the centre and the ball was spun wide on the second phase allowing Windsor to go over and the successful conversion reduced the deficit.
The game stayed finely balanced for a large part of the second half as both teams tried to gain a tactical advantage and to grind out a result. With only a few minutes left on the clock Windsor, who had probably been the gutsier side, were able to create the break that they had been seeking.
A charged down kick in midfield created a foot race that Banbury did not win. The try and subsequent conversion restored parity.
The last couple of minutes saw some frantic rugby as both teams looked for anything to seal the win. The ball ended up being bundled into touch after some sloppy play which seemed an appropriate end to a match that probably neither side deserved to win.
Bulls will need to put this behind them quickly to make amends against Chippenham who they beat earlier in the season.