Saturday, 24 February 2018
HENLEY BULLS, visiting the Davey Fields in Cambridge for the first time in three seasons, were unfortunate not to return with anything more than dented pride in a game that could have swung in their favour had they shown more discipline and opted for a little more simplicity in their attacking game throughout the first half when conditions were slippery.
Shelford Nomads’ pack brought much of the threat to the Bulls and with a solid scrummage and hard carrying forwards they occupied the visitors defence throughout the opening five minutes. They opened their account as they charged down a clearing kick from Toby Howe and chased in the rebound to score close to the posts making the extra two points a formality.
The Bulls escaped their own half with a burst out of defence from Iwan MacRae resulting in a penalty on the halfway line which he landed in the corner for the Bulls pack to test the Nomads’ line-out defence. RAF lock Sam Middleton gathered and delivered the ball to Ed Allen who set the attacking maul and steered it a short distance before delivering the ball to Will Day who finished off the move. MacRae’s conversion drew wide to make it 7-5.
The Nomads were soon back on the offensive and a rare system error in the Bulls defence gave the Nomads their next score slipping through a gap between the centres on the Bulls 10 metre line and swinging the attack quickly to exploit the slower defence on the left hand side.
A third try for Shelford came against the run of play but brought about by good defensive pressure forcing the Bulls into handling errors and subsequent turnover possession and a breakaway try stretching the Nomads’ lead to 17-5.
The Bulls replied with in form scrum-half Toby Venner exploiting an undefended blind-side defence from some well worked Bulls phase play as he sprinted 30 metres to score on the left flank. Just before the break the Shelford pack broke free of their own half and provided the means for the Nomads’ speed men to score a fourth bonus try to make it 22-10.
The Bulls came out firing in the second half and added to their tally after 10 minutes as Iwan MacRae made the most of some space created by his midfield and an initial break out of defence by Sam Quelch to score and convert his own try and put the Bulls in touching distance. However, the first signs of the Bulls indiscipline showed shortly afterwards with infringements right in front of their own posts allowing Shelford to extend the score by three points.
Having clawed their way back into the game the Bulls were pressing for the try that would give them the lead for the first time in the game but on several occasions seemed to lose the tempo and were forced to rebuild as errors in handling and discipline helped the Nomads to repel their threat.
With the score at 22-17 it was the Nomads who showed more control and discipline and were awarded a penalty in front of the Bulls posts to regain possession and killed off the Bulls’ hopes of even a losing bonus point with a late penalty.
13 November 2017
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