Banbury Bulls topped the 100-points mark as they rounded off their championship winning season in style.
But James Kerr’s title winners were hanging on at the end of Saturday’s Midlands Two West South fixture at Spartans where they emerged 40-38 victors.
The home side struck first, as they made ground up the middle of the pitch and made the most of some average tackling to gain good field position. They worked the ball wide and went over in the corner.
Bulls worked their way into the hosts’ 22 and a quick tap-penalty from veteran lock Matt Brock caught them on their heels. A well timed off-load to the supporting Ian Isham saw him crash over and Joe Mills, who had taken over the kicking duties from Josh Deegan, converted.
Bulls soon scored again when George Grieve read the defence and intercepted on the halfway line to romp over with Mills adding the conversion.
Spartans again looked to crash the ball up the midfield and were rewarded when they broke the line to reduce the arrears to a couple of points.
The remainder of the first half went Banbury’s way. Some broken play on the Spartans’ 22 saw Jacob Mills scoop up a loose ball and find Isham who in turn found veteran Simon Brand in space, a side-step and a change of pace saw him go over.
Bulls again took advantage of some fragmented play. This time Jed Boyle picked up a loose ball and out-paced one defender and side-stepped his way past the full back to go under the posts.
Continuing their dominance, Banbury’s forwards worked the fringes well for the backs to exploit the space out wide and Joe Mills went over in the corner and converted for a 33-12 lead.
Bulls ended the half with another score, this time from close range. Working the ball inside the 22 and getting closer to the line, they were able to engineer a close range effort for Isham to crash over.
After the restart Spartans established a good field position on the left flank. The cover defence couldn’t get there as the overlap was put to good use.
Three more tries soon followed. Spartans slickly executed a training ground move for the first of them.
Taking a quick tap-penalty on half way Spartans worked the ball and men into space down the right with a four-man overlap as the home flanker outpaced the Bulls’ defence. Spartans went over again when their winger came on a short line around the ruck and went over to score.
But the clock went into the red with Spartans in possession on the last play as Bulls battled to keep them at bay.