Banbury Bulls maintained their push for the Wadworth 6X South West One East play-off with victory over one of their of their rivals.
Jack Briggs bagged a brace of tries as Bulls comfortably beat Royal Wootton Bassett 45-14 in Saturday’s contest at the DCS Stadium.
Callum Horne came back in to replace the unavailable Ed Berridge while player-coach Matt Goode was ruled out through injury, as was Pete Boulton, but Tommy Gray had recovered from his knock at Oxford Harlequins.
Bulls were quickly out of the traps and established a seven-point advantage inside the opening five minutes.
Duncan Leese initiated the move, his astute interception and kick setting Bulls on their way. Bulls recycled the ball, Nick Pratt showed good hands to release Briggs who found a gap to race through and, despite being caught, he was still able to get over the line and Leese added a simple conversion.
Bassett recovered from the early setback and enjoyed some decent spells of possession without ever seriously threatening the Banbury line.
And it was Bulls who doubled their advantage midway through the first half. Horne chased a hopeful kick from Sam Stoop and nicked the ball from Ioan Jenkins as he hesitated on his own line to quickly dot down for a simple score and Leese added the conversion.
Bulls extended their lead in clinical fashion. Charlie Hix gathered in midfield but threw a wayward pass which was intercepted by Joe Mills, he raced clear before releasing the supporting Gray who put the over-lapping Dan Brady in to score.
Leese kicked the conversion to give Bulls a healthy 21-0 advantage but the visitors got on the scoreboard just before the halftime when Joe Petit released Sam Davies who went over in the corner. Tom Fieldsend added the conversion to give his side a boost for the second half.
Bulls restored their 14-point cushion shortly after the restart when the versatile Matt Powell set Gray away in the corner and Leese added the extras. But Hix redeemed himself when he got on the end of Petit’s pass to score again and Fieldsend kicked the conversion.
Leese got a yellow card for a high tackle by the referee but was the victim of mistaken identity by the touch judge, leaving Bulls a man short in the second half for the third home game running. But replacement Ed Phillips eased the nerves when he kicked the first penalty of the game shortly after coming on.
Bulls had the visitors pinned back for long periods in the second half and made the points safe in the closing stages. Skipper Ian Isham set up a rolling maul which resulted in Stoop getting the final touch and Phillips added the conversion.
Bulls rounded it off when Briggs raced through for his second try after being set up by Stoop following a scrum and Phillips kicked the conversion.