End of season celebrations marred by serious injury!
By Alex Inch
A Hat-trick from Justin Parker helped Banbury to a 32-19 win vs Witney. However, a double leg break for Matthew Powell before half time was a major blow.
Photos by Simon Grieve
Saturday saw final home games for Sam Stoop and Joe Winpenny who will be hanging up their boots after Thursday’s cup final. Thank you for representing Banbury with distinction and class for many years.
Ed Phillips opened the scoring when he kicked a penalty in the opening minutes. Witney penalised for being offside. Banbury 3 Witney 0.
Almost immediately after the restart Banbury extended the lead. Justin Parker intercepted a loose pass from Witney in his own half before sprinting his way over in the clubhouse corner. The conversion attempt went wide, 8-0.
Justin Parker added a second try in the same corner. Ed Berridge peeled off the back of a scrum before drawing the last man and playing in Parker in the corner. Conversion missed, 13-0.
Matthew Powell made a brilliant break for Banbury and as the Witney defence tried to get back onside the Bulls backs switched the ball to the opposite side and Justin Parker completed his hat-trick with another try in front of the clubhouse. The conversion dropped short, 18-0.
Sam Stoop sealed the try bonus point for Banbury when he scored in his final game at Bodicote Park. Tommy Gray made a lovely break before offloading to Sam Stoop. Stoop burst into the 22, stepped inside his opposite man before reaching out for another try in the clubhouse corner. Ed Phillips converted, 25-0.
Ed Berridge added a 5th try for Banbury when he peeled off a scrum before running in untouched under the posts. Ed Phillips converted, 32-0.
Just before half time, In a devastating blow for Banbury, Matthew Powell was forced off with a serious leg injury. Later confirmed to be a double leg break. The club sends its best wishes to Matthew for a speedy recovery.
Witney had a spell of sustained pressure to end the half and eventually James Merriman drove over at the back of a rolling maul. Aaron Lambourne converted, 32-7.
Either Banbury failed to get over the injury to Matthew Powell or a level of complacency crept in as Banbury’s second half was well below their usual standards. Callum Godfrey and Matthew Clarke both crossed for Witney with one conversion to leave it 32-19 at full time.
A real game of two halves from Banbury. Unstoppable at times in the first half, below par in the second. Justin Parker was Banbury’s Man of the Match, 3 tries in the opening 20 minutes showed how dangerous Parker is with ball in hand. Matthew Powell’s horrible injury overshadowing the end of season celebrations. To see any player side-lined for the Cup Final is a real shame and we wish him a speedy recovery.
Finally, a big thank you too all who attended on Saturday. It was fantastic to see so many people at the club, old faces, new faces, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
Speaking to Matt Goode after the game:
36-19, a brilliant first half but a bit sluggish in the second. The Bulls struggling after the injury to Matthew Powell, do you think that had a big effect? “I think the first 30 minutes we were fantastic, I was really impressed with how we played. I think after that we got complacent, we thought we were going to walk it. We know Witney are a real passionate side, they kept the ball well and did what they needed to do. I think we were pretty lazy, we thought we had it won, luckily, we did. I think we need to have a look at the second half and make sure we get it right for Thursday.”
You’ve got a good problem to have but is it going to be tricky to select that starting 15 and bench for next Thursday? “Maybe after today it’s made a few of my decisions easier. I think some of the boys under-performed. Overall, I think we’re in a good place though. We’ve got lots of boys up for places. As a head coach that’s the sort of headache you want.”
How special would it be to lift that County Cup for a 4th time in a row, especially considering the quality of the opposition? “We’ve made history already. We want to keep doing that. As a club we want to progress. We’ll need a good performance if we want to lift that cup again. To get that fourth cup would be unreal. Never would I have dreamed it, but we’ve got the squad to really go for it. We’ve got fantastic support from the club and from our spectators, so anything is possible.”
Does it give you a slight edge that you’ve been in this situation a lot in recent year, those nerves might not be there as much? “We need to go into every game with our backs against the wall. Today is a perfect example where we expected to win but didn’t play well. It’s a different team in the final again. We don’t know what they’re going to bring, no idea at all. We’ve got to play hard and be positive. Chinnor have been in this situation many times as well. We need to focus on what we do best.”
How do you feel about this season as a whole, it’s been a season with a lot of injuries, to still come third are you happy with that? “To come third is great, would we have like second? Maybe. But to come out of games with lots of injuries I think we’ve done tremendously well. What was really pleasing was to see the guys come through from Colts, guys coming back to the club who have come through are youth section is great. I think we’ve been improving all season, it’s been tough but its really added to our squad depth and pushed people on. We’ve lost more games than we’d have wanted to but it’s a testament to the squad and the coaches that we’ve done as well as we have.”