Brilliant Bulls pick up biggest win of the season!
By Alex Inch
Banbury produced some incredible rugby to blow away Swindon 89-0. A hat-trick from Ed Berridge and Man of the Match performance from Tommy Gray helped Banbury to victory.
Photos by Simon Grieve
The usual 9/10 pairing of Ed Phillips and Sam Stoop were unavailable, so Justin Parker got the start at 9 and Tommy Gray started at 10 for the first time this season. It was also fantastic to welcome back Dan Kirwin who had recovered from his broken wrist sustained in the game vs Newbury back in September.
The first 5 minutes were fairly even but after that Banbury were in control. Dan Brady broke down a tiny gap down the blind side before finding Ian Isham free in the middle of the pitch. The captain got the ball to Duncan Leese who sprinted his way over under the posts for a great first try. Leese took over kicking duties for the game and easily slotted his first conversion, 0-7.
Duncan Leese played a role in Banbury’s second try, charging down a Swindon kick and gathering the ball before being stopped narrowly short. The ball was recycled, and Tommy Gray put in a lovely cross-field kick to Dan Kirwin who had the simple task of catching and dotting down to the right of the posts. Leese converted, 0-14.
The Bulls backs were back at it again shortly after. Joe Mills made a break down the left touchline before chipping over the opposition fullback. Duncan Leese gathered the ball and popped the ball to Dan Brady who jogged his way over under the posts. Leese converted, 0-21.
With barely a quarter of the game gone, Banbury had secured the try bonus point. Ken Key showed some lovely skill to exchange passes with Justin Parker before playing in Ed Berridge who snuck his way down the touchline before scoring in the corner. Leese hit a beauty of a conversion, 0-28.
Swindon had a lineout 5m from their own line and Sam Carr-Archer did brilliantly to steal the ball before feeding it back to his fellow forwards. The pack drove forward before Ed Berridge dotted down at the back of the maul, Leese stayed 100% with the boot, 0-35.
Shortly before the half time whistle Ian Isham added his 19th try of the season. A tally he enjoys reminding everyone of at any opportunity. Banbury’s rolling maul has been one of their main weapons this season and it was another one that that lead to the Bulls 6th try of the afternoon, driving over from 5 metres out. Leese was off target with the conversion, his only miss off the day in a game with 13 tries, 0-40.
The Bulls started the second half how they finished the first. Jack Briggs showed great pace to break through the Swindon line before passing inside to Duncan Leese once he’d drawn the last man. Leese sprinted his way over under the posts for his second score of the afternoon before converting, 0-47.
Dan Brady showed some incredible feet after he gathered a cross-field kick and tiptoed his way down the touchline, beating three defenders before offloading to Ed Berridge who ran in untouched to complete his hat-trick under the posts. Leese converted, 0-54.
Ed Berridge turned provider for Banbury’s next score. After a brilliant run and line break, Ed Berridge threw a brilliant back of the hand offload to play in Justin Parker who sprinted his way over from close range. Leese converted, 0-61.
Pete Boulton forced a knock on from Swindon and Duncan Leese took full advantage to boot the ball upfield. There aren’t many quicker than Dan Brady in a footrace and the winger showed off his incredible speed to gather the ball before running in untouched for his second try. Leese converted, 0-68.
Tommy Gray got the try his play deserved when he intercepted a Swindon pass before sprinting half the pitch to score under the posts. Jack Briggs crossed shortly after, Ed Berridge made a line break before one of his trademark offloads to Briggs who sprinted past the fullback to touch down out to the left. Leese converting both, 0-82.
Banbury had time for one more before the final whistle. Swindon knocked on and Tommy Gray gathered before throwing a lovely pass to Dan Kirwin. Kirwin put boot to ball and won the footrace to score to the right of the posts. Duncan Leese added his 12th conversion off the afternoon, 0-89.
A brilliant performance from Banbury. Swindon battled hard but it was tough after relegation had been confirmed the weekend before. There were some brilliant performances from Banbury, Duncan Leese added 34 points, Dan Brady was constantly dangerous, Ed Berridge scored a hat-trick, but Tommy Gray was Banbury’s Man of the Match. Playing out of position he looked totally at ease playing 10. Pulling defenders left and right, creating the gaps for others to run through. He controlled the game for 80 minutes and was fully deserving of his man of the match award.
Speaking to Head Coach, Matt Goode, after the game:
89-0, do you think that’s the best Bulls performance this season? “Yes, I think technically we were very astute. We were really firing. I think the first 5 minutes they took it to us a bit and we saw what their game plan was going to be. But once we had the ball, we controlled possession, played our phases and at times were unstoppable. We moved the ball really well, I thought Tommy Gray at 10 was outstanding, the communication from the boys around him helped too.”
What pleases you more, 89 points of to nil the opposition? “Nilling the opposition, without a shadow of a doubt. We know we can score tries. We know we can usually get those bonus points. But to nil a team at their place is always amazing. I thought the whole team were fantastic. Couple guys game in, couple played out of position, but they really impressed.”
Is there some really competition for places heading towards that cup final now? “Oh yeah, definitely. Our chat before the game was that they’re playing for spots in that final. Players need to be at training Tuesdays and Thursdays, showing me, they want to put that shirt on. It’s a great problem for me to have that so many of the boys are performing right now.”
You’ve got Trowbridge at home next weekend. It was an incredibly tough, physical game at their place. Are you expecting the same next week? “Absolutely! If we play the way we want to play, teams will find it hard to play against us. We need to get our heads on mentally. We’ll have a look at the video from when we played them earlier in the season and see what we need to work on.”
Tries: Ed Berridge (3) Duncan Leese (2) Dan Brady (2) Dan Kirwin (2) Ian Isham, Tommy Gray, Jack Briggs, Justin Parker.
Conversions: Duncan Leese (12)