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Monday, 19 February 2018
HENLEY BULLS’ last game of the season meant a tough trip to St Aubin in Jersey with several new faces in the pack.
Josh Barron and James Perkins, recent recruits from Southampton University, and Mo Bangura, promoted from the Vikings following their successful promotion, were facing a tough debut against a large Jersey pack whose dominance of the scrum set-piece looked predictable and proved a huge advantage for the Reds throughout the match.
What little possession the Bulls garnered during a rather one-sided first half came from the line-out where Matt Thomas and Barron competed well but the few attacking opportunities mustered were squandered through lack of accuracy and pressure from the Red back division who allowed little space and time for the Bulls to sustain any attack beyond two or three phases.
Reds number eight Nick Trower and scrum half Ian Jeffreys combined well for the hosts to rack up a 36-0 first half lead with a brace of tries each and Jeffreys kicking on point to add the extras each time.
The Bulls could have been forgiven for folding under the physical pressure and constant onslaught but a determined defensive effort stemmed what could have been a much bigger lead at the break with Matt Mann, Charlie Sichel and Will Janes all making try-saving tackles.
The break brought a welcome breathing space and time to reorganise with Bangura coming on at lock for his first Zoo Shield game and immediately adding an extra attacking dimension with some effective ball carrying off the ruck.
Former Red Luke Huelin, now in a Bulls shirt, provided a further attacking threat from a wider position as Liam Eaton took over at scrum half.
Despite succumbing to two further second half tries from the Reds, one of which was Jeffreys hat-trick in the dying seconds the Bulls dampened the physical threat to a huge degree and held out to outscore the Reds in the second half with a try from George Lane who had muscled his way through the Reds’ defensive barrier to score his sixth Bulls try of the season and cap a man-of-the-match performance.
Replacement wing Adam Lubbock read a perfectly timed interception on the Reds’ 10 metre line to sprint in unchallenged in his first game in a Bulls shirt for almost two seasons.
Henley Bulls: Sam Beckett, Charlie Sichel, Callum Large (Jonny Kilgallon, 55 mins), Matt Thomas (Mo Bangura, 40 mins), Josh Barron, James Perkins, George Lane, Josh Collis (Jim Hillman, 79 mins), Luke Huelin, Jimmy Stevenson-Wright, Matt Mann (Liam Eaton, 50 mins), Toby Howe, Will Janes, Ash Hayden (Guy Rawsthorn, 52 mins), Sam Quelch (Adam Lubbock, 70 mins).
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