Bulls come out on top in fiery derby!
By Alex Inch
Banbury secured a crucial 5 points in a thrilling contest vs Oxford Harlequins. A brace of tries from Dan Brady helped Banbury to a 12-26 win.
Photos by Simon Grieve
Banbury handed Justin Parker a first start of the season after Sam Stoop was unavailable, Ed Phillips taking the 10 shirt for the afternoon. As soon as the game kicked off it was clear it was going to be an intense contest. It was over 5 minutes before the first break in play with phase after phase of relentless ball carrying.
Banbury’s afternoon was made harder when Matt Goode went off with an achilles injury early in the contest. Tommy Gray moving to Centre, Joe Mills from Wing to Fullback and Jed Boyle entering the game after only 10 minutes.
Banbury took the lead with a brilliant finish from Dan Brady. Banbury had a scrum 5 metres out before Justin Parker got the ball out to the backs. Duncan Leese whipped the ball out to Dan Brady on the left wing. Brady then expertly stood his opposite man up before showing great footwork and finishing skill to dive over in the corner. Ed Phillips nailed a tricky conversion (more so because of the windy conditions) from the side-line. Quins 0 Banbury 7
Martin Nutt saw yellow after a high tackle on Ed Phillips. It wasn’t long before things got even harder for Quins when Antonio Turetta also saw yellow, making no attempt to roll away after a tackle 5 metres out.
Banbury made the extra men count. From a scrum Justin Parker got the ball out to Tommy Gray who showed some incredible footwork to step his man and cut in from out wide to score close to the posts. Ed Phillips converted. Quins 0 Banbury 14.
Banbury might have been disappointed to not increase the lead with the numerical advantage, but Quins defended well before the half time whistle.
Tommy Gray went off early in the second half which was initially feared to a break or dislocation to his arm. After the game a hyper extended elbow was suspected which although not positive news was certainly better than first feared. A makeshift backline was put together with Matthew Powell switching from Flanker to Centre. Things were made tougher for Banbury when Nick Pratt was shown yellow for diving in at the breakdown.
Despite playing out of position Matthew Powell made a brilliant break and only another high tackle stopped him going all the way. Ed Yeates seeing yellow for Quins this time.
When both sides were back up to 15 it was Quins who dominated possession and territory. Eventually the pressure told, and John Henderson whipped a nice pass to Antonio Turetta who did well to score in the right-hand side corner. Rory Garrett converted. Quins 7 Banbury 14.
Quins buoyed by their first score were soon in again. And it was a near repeat of the previous try. John Henderson playing in Antonio Turetta who crashed over in the corner. Rory Garrett couldn’t convert though. Quins 12 Banbury 14.
The Bulls did brilliantly to reverse the momentum. Local derbies after often decided by passion and desire and Banbury showed plenty to weather the storm before extending the lead. Justin Parker went close before Ed Berridge gathered the ball and with one of his trademark offloads, played in Duncan Leese who dived over in the corner. It was now a 7 point game and in the context of the match a crucial conversion followed. The right footed Ed Phillips converting from the right-hand side line with a little help from the crossbar. A brilliant clutch kick. Quins 12 Banbury 21.
With minutes left and a win mathematically out of range now for Quins, Banbury went searching for a try bonus point. Pete Boulton playing against his old club made a brilliant break down the left flank, showing incredible pace before throwing a lovely pass to Dan Brady who expertly finished in the corner. A massive moment for the Bulls who celebrated wildly in the corner. Ed Phillips conversion came back off the post at the full-time whistle. Oxford Harlequins 12 Banbury 26.
A thrilling contest. The late tries were harsh on Oxford Harlequins in terms of their performance. They played some great rugby at times but the spirit and desire from Banbury was equally fantastic. By the end there were probably more players playing out of their natural position than in it. Justin Parker had a fantastic game at 9, Ed Phillips was great playing out of position at fly-half, but a special mention has to go to the Banbury pack. The scrum was dominant all game, winning penalty after penalty and being a constant threat all game. Pete Boulton was Banbury’s Man of the Match. Not only was he class in the scrum, but he carried brilliantly all game, helping secure the late bonus point for Banbury.
Speaking to Bulls Head Coach Matt Goode after the game:
12-26, it was a close-run thing, but you got the win, what pleased you about Banbury’s performance today? “Banbury’s grit and determination. I thought Quins were outstanding. For large periods of the game I thought they were on top. Our defence was fantastic, and we had to really dig in at times. To score at the end there was a bit unfair I thought. Not sure we deserved all 5 points today.”
It was a proper derby wasn’t it? Some huge hits out there today. “Thought Quins were outstanding, put their bodies on the line. We did exactly the same. I thought the game could have gone either way, but we just had that edge. I thought out bench were great and they were probably the difference. Getting 5 points ugly is crucial in this league. With the squad we’ve got I hope we can do it again next week.”
A number of injuries today, players out of position, how pleased were you with the boys off the bench and the players out of position who stepped up today. “It showed the depth we’ve got, Matthew Powell at centre who is our starting 7 I thought was brilliant. Tommy stepped in at 12 for a bit as well and did great. I can’t praise the boys that played out of position enough, they played really well.”
Just to touch on that try at the end, you were nearly down there yourself celebrating it yourself: “I was running down there, hobbling on one foot. To see Pete slice through and that offload was unbelievable. It shows the confidence the boys have. They could have just kicked the ball off, but they went for the bonus point. That ending was amazing.”
Royal Wootton Bassett next week, it’s going to be a big one in deciding those playoff places. You going to be after a big bumper crowd to come support the boys? “Definitely, I think it’s going to be great. We always get great support. I thought the support we had here today was amazing. We owe RWB, we should have beaten them at there place, we’ll be looking to overturn that result.”
Banbury Scorers: Dan Brady (2) Tommy Gray, Duncan Leese
Conversions: Ed Phillips (3)