Banbury Bulls were unable to gain revenge over Oxford Harlequins in Saturday’s South West One East derby.
James Kerr’s side have now lost four on the spin and are struggling to recapture the form they showed either side of the mid-season break.
A strong performance from the visitors enabled them to take the bonus point 33-28 victory at Bodicote Park, leaving the hosts with a solitary losing bonus point. Harlequins’ desire to get maximum points shone throughout the derby.
Bulls made good use of early territory and possession, they made in-roads in the Quins’ defence and came away with two penalties, the second of which earned the visitors number eight a yellow card.
Ed Phillips kicked both penalties. Quins had not seen much of the ball in the early exchanges but when they did, they made great use of it. Skipper Allan Purchase continually found holes in the home side’s defence and brushed off would-be tacklers.
Once the visitors were in behind Bulls’ defence they were clinical and scored Huw Dimond and Sam Watkinson, which was converted by Dimond.
Bulls finally managed to put some phases together, the ball was recycled to replacement Jed Boyle who stepped in off his wing to score.
That should have kick-started Bulls but their lack-lustre defending continued. The return of Quins’ number eight saw him off-load out of the tackle to release winger Archie Van Dijk to score in the corner.
The extras were added with an impressive conversion from Dimond out wide. Quins increased their lead with a try from Ed Yeats, converted by Dimond, to lead 26-11 at halftime.
After the restart, Bulls tried to keep the ball for longer periods but the Quins’ defence was well organised and stood up to the test. Bulls crossed the line from a set-piece which saw Phillips and Josh Deegan link up on the winger’s return after injury.
Phillips added the extras from the touchline but no sooner had Bulls got their hopes up, than Quins crossed the line again for their fifth and final score from Ollie Jenner which was again converted by Dimond.
Bulls closed the gap with a neat finish from veteran fly-half Sam Stoop, Phillips’ conversion made the score 25-33 with three minutes to play. But All Bulls could muster was a penalty from Phillips to save a losing bonus point with the last kick of the game.