Head coach James Kerr rang the changes as Banbury Bulls recovered to get back to winning ways at Old Leamingtonians.
Having suffered back-to-back defeats in Midlands Two West South, Bulls bounced back to win 25-10 at Old Leamingtonians on Saturday with Kerr’s second half changes proving decisive.
Playing with the elements, Old Leamingtonians got off to the perfect start when some poor line speed and a couple of missed tackles saw them go over. Old Leamingtonians extended their lead with a penalty against an inconsistent Bulls’ side.
Bulls knew they needed to keep hold of the ball and starve Old Leamingtonians’ of possession but they failed to do so with some uncharacteristic handling errors. In the brief period they did manage to keep hold of the ball, Old Leamingtonians infringed and Bulls managed to manufacture a try from Matt Brock.
While Bulls’ continuity with ball in hand did not improve before the break, their defence did, and they were able to go into halftime only five points behind.
After the restart, Old Leamingtonians conceded two kickable penalties, the second earning ten minutes in the sin-bin. Ed Phillips kicked them both to put Banbury 11-10 ahead.
Kerr tinkered with the back line, moving Phillips to outside half and Joe Mills to nine. That had an immediate affect with Seamus O’Dwyer scoring on the left, taking advantage of the numerical advantage, and Phillips added the extras.
Banbury’s third try saw them at their best in open play. Old Leamingtonians had a rare break into the visitors’ 22 but Phillips tracked back to tackle and strip the hosts’ open side in one movement and fed Jed Boyle, who counter attacked down field, exchanged passes with Josh Deegan, and stepped past the full back reaching the line to score under the posts. Phillips comfortably slotted the conversion to put 25-10 ahead.
Both teams pushed hard to try and claim a bonus point but, as the rugby deteriorated again, neither side did enough to gain it.