Phillips points the way as Bulls get their first victory

Max Tichener tries to break through the Chippenham defence during Banbury Bulls' victory. Photo: Jessica Rogers
Max Tichener tries to break through the Chippenham defence during Banbury Bulls' victory. Photo: Jessica Rogers

Ed Phillips scored 20 of Banbury Bulls points as they beat Chippenham 25-24 in Saturday’s RFU South West One East fixture.

With the ball in hand Bulls looked confident but only in patches and their inability to retain possession at crucial times in the second half nearly cost them.

Bulls started in similar fashion to their defeat at Witney, with all of the early possession and territory, but found themselves a try behind after the home side’s first meaningful attack. Again it was from errors that Chippenham scored.

Alex Stevenson was twice off target with penalty attempts and Bulls’ frustration was compounded when a three-man overlap was not taken advantage of moments later.

But Bulls got their first points after Chippenham cleared from a 22 drop-out, with Josh Deegan starting and finishing the move. He fielded the ball and found Chris Phillips who off-loaded to Simon Brand, he side-stepped the first defender before finding Deegan who ran in untouched from the 22.

Stevenson missed the conversion and Chippenham’s pressure told after good ball retention and ground was made by their forward pack who released the backs to score in the left corner.

Both teams looked better with ball in hand and Phillips scored the first of his two tries. Brand took the ball into contact just short of the line, Chris Phillips dislodged the ball backwards and Ed Phillips dived over the line in one movement.

Phillips took over the kicking duties to give Bulls a 12-10 lead at halftime.

After the restart, Bulls started confidently and built up a 12 point lead. Gifted a penalty straight in front of the posts, Phillips made no mistake.

Bulls then enjoyed their best spell, moving the ball well and keeping possession for multiple phases. But they were made to work hard for their third try, twice seeing overlaps going begging before Ed Phillips took advantage from the base of the ruck and dived over.

Phillips added the extras but as Bulls went in search of the four-try bonus point, errors crept in which gave Chippenham a foothold in the game. Two converted tries turned the game around and saw Chippenham lead 24-22.

But in the closing stages Bulls were awarded a penalty six metres in from touch, just short of the 22, and Phillips slotted it over.

Chippenham had one last chance but a turnover from James Burge gave Bulls the chance to kick the ball dead and win the game.