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Oxfordshire Knock-Out Cup

Banbury Bulls 27 – 12 Grove

Last Updated: Feb 19, 2014 05:37pm
Bodicote, Cherwell
By Simon Grieve
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With only the merest of wobbles on the 60 minute mark Banbury made light work of progressing to the semi-final of the Oxfordshire Cup as they beat a young Grove side 27-11 tonight.

The tie was played at the fourth time of asking due to weather related postponements, the pitch playing incredibly well although heavy in places.

The Bulls were undefeated 6 on the bounce going into this evening and Grove quickly found out why as the home side scored at the rate of a point a minute. Lively winger Josh Deegan (pictured) was first to pounce as he cut back inside the Grove defence at pace to score the first of his 2 tries. Moments later Jimmy Manley stepped two Grove tacklers on the left wing to go over, this time Alex Fogavini adding the extras.

Grove had no answer to Banbury’s early pace, skipper Ed Phillips gaining extra territory with quickly taken penalties. Both sides were guilty of repeated transgression at the break down throughout the evening, however it was Grove who gave ‘Foggy’ an easy 3 points to make it 15-0 to the Bulls in as many minutes.

Once Grove had recovered their composure they delivered a period of sustained pressure in the Banbury half. However, Banbury’s defensive line speed and impact in the tackle was impressive all night. Only a comedy fumble between Ed Phillips and Carl Daniels prevented the Bulls capitalising on an intercepted pass.

Banbury were next to try referee Rolff’s patience as they were caught offside rushing out of defence, however Grove’s fly-half Roger Sevier just shot wide with a 40m kick. 5 minutes later a similar Bulls offence was punished by Sevier from 30m and Grove had their first 3 points on the board. Half time and a comfortable 15-3 lead for the Bulls.

Some in the stand, and maybe those on the field, assumed the night’s work was done as Deegan read an ambitiously floated Grove pass from seemingly miles out. Beautifully intercepted on the half way Deegan ran unopposed to the posts to score. Fogavini easily converted and Banbury were 22-3 to the good and only 3 minutes of the half played.

Grove gathered themselves for the second time and piled on the pressure, the Bulls seemingly happy to soak it up in their 22. However, repeated Banbury penalties at the breakdowns saw Grove opting to kick for the corners - the points deficit giving them little option. The Bulls lost Chris Phillips to a leg injury after 15 minutes as a scrum collapsed, Simon Brand making a welcome return to first team action. Grove were awarded the penalty which Sevier duly kicked, 22-6 and a sense that they were back in the game. A clever switch of direction on the next attack saw Grove finding an overlap in the right corner and scoring an unconverted try.

Banbury sensibly stepped up the pace an enjoyed a period of territory, Fogavini opting to attack the corners from a penalty. However he was to play no further part in proceedings as an eye injury saw him replaced by Jed Boyle. From a scrum won on the Grove 22 Ed Phillips produced a piece of outstanding individual skill as he grubbered the advancing Grove defence and rushed through to dot the ball down. He missed converting his own try but Banbury nerves were settled by the 27-12 scoreline and only 10 minues left to play.

The final period will be happily forgotten by all present, particularly the Grove prop who saw a yellow card for his exuberance. One final Grove attack fell just short of the Bulls line, Phillips booting the ball out on the whistle. In the end a comfortable win for the street-wise Bulls and they progress to the semi-final of the Oxfordshire Cup.

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