John Fox scored the late try which secured Banbury Bulls a share of the spoils with Swindon at Bodicote Park.
Bulls put in a much improved performance against relegation-threatened Swindon in Saturday’s 25-25 South West One East draw.
Bulls had a point to prove after the previous week’s lack-lustre performance but they picked up where they had left off at Royal Wootton Bassett. They conceded a penalty from the kick-off as Swindon started the better of the two sides.
Bulls got back in the game when the ball spat out the back of a Swindon ruck and stand-in captain Ed Phillips was the first to react hacking the ball on. Freddie Cracknell collected the ball on Banbury’s 22 and ran the remaining 78 metres untouched to dot down in the corner.
But Bulls were unable to break their habit of conceding penalties, handing Swindon good field position and another kick at goal which was converted into three more points. Phillips missed a penalty and, as the game developed, it was clear that Swindon were stronger at the set-piece, particularly in the scrums.
But Bulls were able to combat that with pace and fluidity in the back line. Cracknell went over for his second try, out wide on the left but again Phillips was off target with the conversion.
Bulls made two glaring errors in their own half and Swindon capitalised, adding a converted score each time to lead 20-10 at halftime.
Banbury’s forward pack worked hard against bigger, stronger opposition and, when the back line was provided with go forward ball, they looked dangerous. Cracknell completed his hat-trick with a fine finish, again on the left touchline but Phillips was off target.
Cracknell was soon over again for his fourth of the day, this time coming off his wing running a hard line and bursting past two players before stretching over the line to score. Phillips continued to have a poor day with the boot and was off target again.
The game opened up and Swindon regained their five-point lead. But Bulls were camped on Swindon’s line and Phillips picked out Fox from the back of a ruck who crashed over the line.