Midland Two West South title chasers Old Laurentians proved too strong for a young Banbury Bulls side in Saturday’s fixture at Bodicote Park.
Missing up to ten players due to injuries and unavailability it was a youthful and inexperienced Bulls team that took the field against the unbeaten leaders. While the 24-3 scoreline indicates a heavy defeat it was anything but as the young Bulls showed great commitment and no little skill and enterprise, with their efforts worthy of greater reward.
Bulls showed that they were not going to lie down easily as they tore into their tackles, not allowing their opponents to get into their stride. Their endeavour was rewarded when Alex Caviezel Cox, making his first team debut at fullback, opened the scoring with a penalty.
It took Old Laurentians shortly before halftime to take the lead when from a scrum won against the head centre Ian Wallis skipped through the Bulls’ defence and although he was stopped just short of the line, Rich Parker was on hand to force his way over and Dan O’Brien added the conversion.
Turning to face the elements with a four point deficit, Bulls had a mountain to climb but to their credit they enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges. Joe Mills, deputising for skipper Eddie Phillips at scrum half, orchestrated the play well with Carl Daniels running strongly in midfield.
But they could not break the Old Laurentians’ defence and, when a long touch finder forced Bulls deep into their own 22, a driving maul from the line-out proved unstoppable and O’Brien again added the conversion.
With the resulting kick-off not going ten metres, Bulls were immediately put on the back foot and Old Laurentians found space out wide for Reiss Boon to score in the corner. With Bulls chasing the game and attempting to play positive rugby, a misplaced pass in midfield was intercepted and Andy Orbison galloped 40 metres to the line.
With 15 minutes left and the Banbury forwards coming under increasing pressure the floodgates could have opened. To their credit, they raised their game to dominate the closing stages and went close several times but could not claim a richly deserved try.