Banbury crowned Oxfordshire County Cup Champions!
By Alex Inch
Banbury lifted the County Cup for a 4th year in a row. A brace of tries from Dan Brady and a man of the match performance from Ed Berridge helped the Bulls to a 20-5 victory vs Chinnor Falcons.
Photos by Simon Grieve
The opening 10 minutes of the game were a quiet, cagey affair with Banbury edging the territory but Chinnor looking dangerous on the counter attack. The remainder of the first half though was anything but cagey, with end to end action.
Dan Brady opened the scoring for Banbury with a fine finish in the corner. Ian Isham gathered the ball off the floor before playing in Ed Berridge down the left wing. Berridge drew as many men as he could before offloading to Brady who dived over in the corner. Ed Phillips’s conversion came back off the post, Banbury 5 Chinnor 0.
Justin Parker nearly scored a second try for Banbury but a brilliant last-ditch tackle from the opposition fullback saw Parker bundled in to touch. Banbury weren’t held back for long though. Jacob Mills stole the resulting lineout before the backs switched the ball to the opposite flank. Duncan Leese drew the last man before playing in Dan Brady for his second try of the game. Ed Phillips brilliantly converted from the side-line to make it 12-0.
Chinnor responded straight after the restart. The Falcons were into the Banbury 22 and after Banbury were penalised for being offside, Chinnor kicked to the corner. From the lineout Brad Harewood drove over from close range. Max McMinn couldn’t convert to leave it 12-5.
Banbury extended the lead through the boot of Ed Phillips. Chinnor were penalised for coming in at the side and Phillips did well to make the long-range penalty attempt. Banbury 15 Chinnor 5.
Chinnor dominated the remainder of the half but Banbury’s defence was superb. Sam Jones looked certain to score under the posts, but Joe Winpenny forced a knock on, and Banbury managed to hang on until half time.
Banbury extended their lead early in the second half. The Bulls had a 5m scrum and the Banbury pack drove Chinnor to their own line before Ed Berridge burst from the back of the scrum to dive over. Ed Phillips pushed his conversion wide, Banbury 20 Chinnor 5.
Chinnor searched for a way back into the match and dominated large periods of territory. But a combination of handling errors and intercepted passes kept Chinnor from scoring. Joe Winpenny in his last ever game of senior rugby put in a brilliant hit to put the Chinnor winger into touch and end a promising attack.
Banbury had to play the last few minutes with just 14 men after Dan Brady saw yellow for throwing the ball away, but the Bulls held out. Joe Mills intercepted a loose pass and after he was tackled, Ed Phillips booted the ball out to bring up the final whistle.
Banbury had done it. A brilliant team performance, the boys all stepped up at crucial times. Ian Isham lifted the County Cup for a fourth year in a row much to the delight of the Banbury supporters. Ed Berridge received the Ron Grimshaw Memorial Trophy for his man of the match performance. Sam Stoop and Joe Winpenny were both playing their final games before retiring and both capped their rugby careers with fine performances. Both players clearly emotional at the final whistle, had got the fairy-tale ending they deserved.
Speaking to Head Coach, Matt Goode, after the game:
20-5, County Champions four times in a row, describe that feeling right now:
“It’s an amazing feeling, never would I have dreamt it as a youngster. It’s incredible, we’ve got a great bunch of lads. I’m delighted for them and for the club.”
Falcons were a bit of an unknown, wasn’t easy to see who was going to play, did that make it more impressive that the boys stuck to their own game plan and played their patterns?
“It’s a great feeling to beat a side that are that good. I think our old heads just managed the game well today. I think that’s what won the game for us today. Chinnor were class, they always are. Credit to Matt Mountford for putting that team together.”
It was final games for Sam Stoop and Joe Winpenny, was that spoken about before or did it not need to be said. Was there an incentive to put in a performance for them?
“Not necessarily for the rest of the boys, they’re going to keep playing. But it was a testament to themselves. I think that’s the best game Winpenny has played in a Banbury shirt. Stoopy is class. They did themselves justice.”
You’re making a real statement now, 4 times champions, come and beat us:
“When you’ve won it, you want to keep it. For me it’s never tireless, the county cup is a special thing. Any team that plays on this pitch, plays in those preliminary rounds, we want to win. Oxfordshire is a proud county and we’re a proud club.”