Cracknell bags a brace as Bulls keep their grip on the cup

Banbury Bulls celebrate their success in the Oxon Knockout Cup final. Photo: Simon Grieve
Banbury Bulls celebrate their success in the Oxon Knockout Cup final. Photo: Simon Grieve

Banbury Bulls retained the Oxon Knockout Cup with a dominant display in Thursday’s final at Iffley Road where Witney - and the elements - were unable to thwart Matt Goode’s side.

Freddie Cracknell bagged a brace of tries as Bulls beat fellow Wadworth 6X South West One outfit Witney 44-8.

An even opening saw Ed Phillips and Witney’s Matt Clarke each kick penalties before Bulls scored two tries in quick succession to take control of the tie.

Witney fly half Jack Birks was unable to gather a deep kick from Phillips and Cracknell was quickly upon him to snatch possession and go over. Captain Ian Isham charged over moments later following a catch and drive and this time Phillips was successful with his conversion.

Witney gradually got back into the game and enjoyed their best spell, forcing a couple of two line-outs on the five metre line but Bulls’s recent defensive improvement kept them out.

Witney’s frustration boiled over when prop Jamie Burke was yellow carded for throwing the ball back at Matt Goode after a thumping tackle from the Bulls’ player-coach.

Witney started the second half brightly and Clarke looked as though he was going to reduce the deficit only to be denied by a try-saving tackle from Cracknell.

And Bulls never looked back after that, a slick move released Manley and the centre raced away to extend his side’s lead to 17 points. Moments later Cracknell found more gaps in the Witney defence to race over and Phillips added the conversion.

Bulls maintained the pressure on Witney and further tries followed from Sam Stoop, Dan Brady and Tommy Gray with Joe Mills kicking the final conversion. Witney’s efforts were finally rewarded when Arron Lambourne scored for a late consolation try.