Banbury Bulls moved into the third round of the RFU Intermediate Cup following a tough test against Camp Hill.
The Midlands Two West South leaders beat their Warwickshire visitors 10-3 at Bodicote Park, the first time two sides had met since 2008.
Camp Hill won the toss and elected to play with the elements in the first half to try and put the hosts under pressure. Bulls enjoyed plenty of possession but were forced to play a lot of rugby in their own half.
Camp Hill took the lead with a penalty but Bulls had the edge at the set-piece and used their dominance to gain a foot hold in the tie. They earned themselves a penalty and Alex Stevenson went close with this attempt.
Both sides’ defence was impressive with some big tackles going in around the fringes particularly from supporters’ favourite Manu Paniagua. Bulls finally broke through Camp Hill’s defence, Robin Cooke squeezed through a gap on the wing and showed blistering pace to break clear, leaving the full-back in his wake to score on his debut under the posts and Stevenson added the extras.
Cooke got his hands on the ball moments later and went on another impressive run, only to be hauled down five metres out. At that stage Banbury looked as through they were taking charge of the game but went into the halftime break only 7-3 ahead.
Bulls turned around with the elements now at their backs after the restart but a very well organised Camp Hill defence was extremely competitive at the break down. Camp Hill enjoyed extended periods of pressure themselves, only to denied time and time again by a solid Banbury defensive effort.
Bulls finally extended their lead through a Stevenson penalty and had another chance to score when a good running line from replacement Sam Stoop saw him break through to leave him with a two-on-one with the full back but he was unaware of the supporting Ed Phillips and his chip and chase was unsuccessful.
Bulls held on to their seven-point advantage go through to the next round early in the new year while Camp Hill head back to Midlands Two West North on the back of a performance which suggests they will not remain a mid-table side for much longer.