Skipper Ian Isham bagged four tries as Banbury Bulls got their play-off hopes back on track.
Bulls closed the gap on second-placed Old Centralians to four points in Wadworth 6X South West One East with a 42-14 victory over basement boys Stratford-Upon-Avon at the DCS Stadium.
Isham got Bulls off to a great start with an early try. The pack stole a five metre scrum against the head and a couple phases later Isham showed great strength to force his way over.
Bulls extended the lead when Bulls forced Stratford to give themselves a five metre line-out and the pack did the rest, driving over from close range with Callum Horne touching down. Ed Phillips kicked a tricky conversion into a head wind to make it 12-0.
Duncan Leese and Joe Mills combined to give Bulls good territory, Stratford were forced to kick the ball out close to their own line. From the resulting line-out Isham found his man before gathering at the back of the rolling maul and driving over in the corner.
Stratford narrowed the lead when good breaks got them to within five metres of the line which produced a penalty that they took quickly and Charlie Powell dived over with Gwil Davis converting.
Bulls started the second half with a try from Isham, another rolling maul in a near repeat of his second try bringing up his hat-trick.
Stratford scored their second try after some sustained pressure, Bulls defended well before Mark Hibberd went over in the corner with Davis nailing a tricky conversion. But Phillips kicked a penalty to settle any nerves after Stratford were penalised for a deliberate knock-on.
After Bulls lost Matt Brock and Sam Carr-Archer to injuries, both sides were left with very make-shift scrums. Bulls’ scrum consisted of four props, two hookers, a flanker and a number eight.
But the Bulls’ scrum was still on top and after they won another penalty Phillips used the advantage to throw a looping pass out wide. The bounce was kind and Isham gathered the ball before diving over and Phillips converted.
Sam Stoop punished a narrow Stratford defensive line when he chipped in behind and Duncan Leese was there to gather before crossing in the corner.
Isham turned provider for Banbury’s final try of the day. Isham put in a quick pass to Steve Potter who burst through the Stratford line before sprinting his way over to open his account for the club.