Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Bulls fail to recover from hosts' early onslaught

HENLEY BULLS travelled to Eltham in South East London with seven changes to their starting line-up to face an Extras XV packed with national league experience.

As the driving snow and sleet passed over and the strong winds dropped the College Meadow held firm for an exciting encounter.

The Extras took the Bulls by their horns for the first 15 minutes unleashing their powerful back division at angles from a set piece scrum to baffle the visitors’ defence and score untouched under the posts. They followed this with a driving maul from an attacking line-out to score a second and mirrored that with a third as the afternoon looked like being a bleak experience in many ways for the young Bulls.

With an early mountain to climb at 21-0 down something stirred in the young Bulls led by Scott White. Half-backs Harry Burn and Toby Howe, enjoying their first bit of possession, began to kick for territory with success and helped by some good ball carrying from the Bulls pack their pace and good ball retention at the ruck allowed an opportunity for Martin Nutt to put Will Janes in enough space to outstrip the scrambling Extras’ defence. Tyler Wint and man-of-the-match Josh Collis gained hard yards from the restart and the outcome looked less predictable.

Scrum half Harry Burn then dummied to feed his back line to the right on half way and slipped through a poorly defended gap to the left of the ruck and outsprinted the cover from 40 metres to add a second try for the Bulls which also went unconverted. At the break the score stood at 21-10 but the Bulls seemed to be driving the tempo of the game until Callum Large was sin binned for a tip-tackle and the Extras tried in vain to capitalise on the advantage.

For the first 20 minutes of the second half possession swapped hands regularly but both teams’ endeavour to create line-breaks was met with defensive line-speed that snuffed out every plot as Toby Howe and Martin Nutt marshalled the Bulls defence.

The Extras took advantage of a penalty to put themselves two full scores clear at 24-10 as they were visibly rattled by the Bulls resurgence.

As the final 10 minutes approached the Bulls, forced to take more risks in an attempt to close the gap, coughed up the ball in the midfield whilst off-loading in attack and the Extras scrum half regathered the dropped pass to catch the Bulls on the counter attack, having thrown caution to the wind.

As the Extras pressured the Bulls from the restart, without the option to kick possession away as the time was up the Bulls tried to play from inside their own goal area and were caught in possession on the five metre line and turned over for the Extras to add the final score of the game.

Henley Bulls: Callum Large, Liam Trinder, Tyler Wint, Matt Thomas, Josh Collis, Jimmy Wright, Scott White, George Lane, Harry Burn, Toby Howe, Nick Arnell, Martin Nutt, Will Janes, Sam Quelch, Luke Govier.

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