Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Bulls slow off mark as Titans dominate

THE Bulls struggled to keep up with the pace and physicality of Redingensians Titans in their Division 2 Zoo Shield opener on Saturday.

From the outset the hosts appeared to be the team living up to their billing claiming an early 10-point lead through two unconverted tries. The second of them came through former Bulls lock Matt Thomas.

The Bulls took about 20 minutes to settle having looked rather shaky at the set piece and failing to establish any territory with some inaccurate kicking.

But their first response came through the pack where Jimmy Wright stood out as the main threat slipping and twisting his way characteristically through the Titans’ first line of defence and pressuring their 22-metre line.

This forced a penalty which James Hadfield took quickly and charged close enough to the line to off-load to his hard running front row partner Louie Henson who forced his way over. The half-time score was 10-5 with all conversions missed.

After the re-start, the Bulls looked to be the team in the ascendancy as the sun continued to take its toll on the packs.

Luca Townshend looked threatening when in possession as Luke Huelin drove his team back into Titans territory deep enough to force a further penalty which on this occasion Sam Quelch converted to points.

Soon after it was another former Henley player, Connor Corrigan who put the Titans further ahead with a counter attack from half way, chipping and re-gathering to score and increase their advantage.

The Bulls immediately responded with Luke Huelin darting home from an opportunist’s try as the Bulls midfield duo of Townshend and Ed Allen had managed to break down the Titans defence and Josh Huggins had made great strides down the flank.

Huelin’s effort went unconverted and the Titans took charge of the re-start with some accurate handling and penetrating attacks that resulted in them stretching away with two tries in quick succession, one of which they ran in from their own 22 having gathered a wayward attacking cross-kick from the Bulls who were at this point down to 14 men.

With the Titans 32-13 up the Bulls rallied for one last time as Toby Venner and Oscar Gutierrez linked with Huggins to be denied on two separate occasions and a charge from Jake O’Leary down the right flank was snuffed out by a scrambling Titans defence.

It was then down to Wright to provide the line-break yet again and a slick off-load that put the terrier-like Toby Venner over for a well-deserved five points which Quelch converted.

Despite the Titans securing the win, there was a sense that there is more to come from this new-look Bulls team.

Henley Bulls: James Hadfield (James Owen 70), Matt Hodson (Charlie Sichel 60), Louie Henson, Mo Bangura (Dan Bond 40), Jake O’Leary, Ed Allen, Jimmy Wright, Alex Collis (Adam Geering 40), Luke Huelin, Toby Howe (Dan Foley 50), Toby Venner, Luca Townshend, Sam Quelch, Josh Huggins, Oscar Gutierrez.

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